I saw this newspaper article, talking about the Denver-area mass transit board of directors, entitled Disabilities Sideline RTD Members During Team Building Go-Cart Race, and have wanted to blog about it for a few days.
First, the title is a bit inaccurate. It wasn’t disabilities that sidelined the members, but rather the attitudes and behaviors of the president of the board.
A short summary: to develop “cohesion” and teamwork on the board, a non-inclusive teambuilding activity was chosen by the board president, that left two members unable to fully participate.
A local trouble-maker (I.E. someone critical of RTD) posted this Youtube video:
RTD, or the Regional Transportation District, is the Denver mass-transit organization that manages, among other things, paratransit. This agency has had a s storied past, with advocates using inaccessible RTD busses to pave the way for the wheelchair lifts you will see in almost all transit buses in the US today. Of course it took lawsuits, blocking busses with bodies and wheelchairs, and generally mass disruption to make RTD put the lifts on their busses. Every year or two since, there’s been a court case against RTD regarding inaccessible busses, broken lifts, disrespectful drivers, busses passing by disabled riders without picking them up, and even drivers lying about the working state of the lifts. And every year or two these get settled, typically out-of-court, with promises by RTD that they will do better next time. Except they don’t.
So, you would think that a 15 member board of directores that includes disabled members would know about the recent litigation against RTD. Or how they cut off 120 disabled riders because they were “providing service above and beyond requirements” (link includes video) and we just couldn’t have that. Or perhaps they would know about the disaster when RTD tried showing off their shiny new rail cars to the disabled community (in fairness, they promised – again just a promise at this point until we see how the service works – to fix those problems). I’m not saying that RTD is bad or good here – just that board members obviously must be aware that disabled people actually exist, since at the very least these pesky disabled people have caused RTD to expend some effort.
Apparently, however, the board president is unaware of that. Or unaware that accommodations matter. Even for a “team building” activity (why on earth would you want to include everyone on a team building activity?). If a disabled board member isn’t accommodated, what chance does a disabled citizen have when it comes to their transit services?
I could talk about the level of service RTD provides, as they continue to cut bus routes (and as you cut bus routes, you also cut off people who can’t use that route – RTD isn’t required to provide services to disabled riders more than a certain distance from a regular bus stop, nor required to provide that service outside of the regular bus stop’s schedule). I could talk about the complete fiscal disaster of FastTracks (so, really RTD – you actually built a cost model that assumed tax revenue would increase over more than a decade, but building supplies and services would not change cost at all? WTF?). But I’m not going to.
I’m just going to say: rather than focusing on teamwork, why don’t you figure out how to involve all of the board members in the process of running RTD. However, I imagine we’ll get little more than another promise that you’ll do better.