by Judy Goddess
“There’s no problem with public transportation in the Bayview if you’re able-bodied, but if you’re not …,” said Beverly Taylor, the facilitator of the recent Transit Fair for Elders at the Southeast Campus of SF City College. On Aug. 8, 2017, the Network for Elders, the Community Living Campaign and Bayview Moves sponsored The Bayview Transportation Fair, the first of its kind in the community.
Taylor’s opening remarks expressed the feelings of many of those attending the event. “I’m tired of hearing members complain about waiting hours for Paratransit or of the van not getting there at all. Tired of hearing complaints about dispatchers not taking down the right address, or of being insulted and demeaned when they call to complain.
“And I’m personally tired of Paratransit calling my home and saying if I’m not outside in five minutes I’ll miss my ride after they dropped me off at my doctor’s office and I’m calling them now because I want a ride back home. Get the task done right or not at all.”
After representatives from SF Paratransit, BART, Bayview Moves, SFMTA Accessible Services, Yellow Cab and GoGoGrandparent explained their services, the audience was invited to visit the companies’ tables and ask questions.
BART representatives were kept busy helping people apply for Clipper Cards. GoGoGrandparent, a new private service that promises quick service, low rates, and allows riders to call for a ride without a Smartphone, elicited murmurs of appreciation from the women gathered around its table.
But it was Paratransit that drew the loudest response as one person after another told of missed appointments, vans arriving over two hours late, and disrespectful dispatchers.
“There’s no problem with public transportation in the Bayview if you’re able-bodied, but if you’re not …,” said Beverly Taylor, the facilitator of the recent Transit Fair for Elders at the Southeast Campus of SF City College.
After the meeting, the Network for Elders decided to form a watch group of seniors, to collect anecdotes and data which will be shared with Paratransit and the other providers. It was also decided to hold a second transportation fair, reported Taylor, who staffs the Network for Elders for the Community Living Campaign. “Paratransit wants to improve their service, and we want that too.
“We started at the top for this meeting. Now we want to work our way to the people on the line. For this second fair, we want to meet with the dispatchers. The problem is in the office, not with the drivers.
“The people they hire as dispatchers don’t seem to know the city. They schedule drivers to be at opposite ends of the city at the same time, and they’re disrespectful. It can’t continue like this,” Taylor said.
It was also decided to hold a second transportation fair, reported Taylor, who staffs the Network for Elders for the Community Living Campaign. “Paratransit wants to improve their service, and we want that too.”
The Network for Elders plans to form the watch group at their next meeting. The data and stories collected by the watch group will be used to help Paratransit find solutions and improve their service.
A follow-up meeting with SF Paratransit and the other transportation providers is planned for January.
This is the third transportation fair organized by the Community Living Campaign. The group plans to hold another fair at I.T. Bookman for residents of OMI (Outer Mission, Merced Heights, Ingleside) who could not attend this event.
Judy Goddess, who is a senior, writes a monthly column on senior issues for the Ingleside-Excelsior Light, a fellow member with the Bay View of the San Francisco Neighborhood Newspaper Association. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.