Access Shuttle routing system makes transportation service less accessible

The free transportation service for people with accessibility needs has created a new routing system, and many who need the University of Oregon Access Shuttle said the route refuses to accommodate them.

Before the change, freshman Abdullah Alshabanah could call the Access Shuttle’s number and driver Vickie Peterson would put his stop on the schedule for the week. Now, Alshabanah is required to wait a maximum of 40 minutes for the Access Shuttle to head his way, making it difficult to get to his classes that have 10 minutes in between them.

“Even if I want to wait for the Shuttle, there aren’t any chairs. We’re tired of waiting,” Alshabanah said.

Since 2008, the Access Shuttle has served those “with permanent or temporary conditions that limit mobility,” according to the service’s website.

“We used to serve about 100-250 people a week before the route system and now we serve at max 30 people a week,” Peterson said. “That’s about one to three people a day.”

Peterson said she used to be able to pick up students, staff and faculty through the scheduling system as far as 22nd Avenue and as far south as Mill Street, but now she cannot make a stop even one block off of campus.

“I was told no scheduling and to stay on this route unless someone screams loud enough,” Peterson said.

“I’m not frustrated; I’m angry. I don’t want to lose my job over it, but something needs to be done.” – Access Shuttle driver Vickie Peterson
Peterson said the new route stays close to the UO campus, only detouring to places owned by the university, such as the Baker Center, Spencer View Apartments and Autzen Stadium.

“It isn’t an accessible shuttle anymore,” graduate student Janet Stafford said. “[Alshabanah and I] had to change our schedules.”

Peterson said the system is trying to follow a campus-only route similar to the system Oregon State University has in place, as UO gained iPads for the routing system and another vehicle.

“We’re now serving less people than before [when] we didn’t have iPads and served more people with one vehicle,” Peterson said.

Stafford said the new routing system came with an online interactive map that allows people to know when the shuttle will arrive, but Stafford’s visual condition makes reading a screen challenging.

“On a scale of one to 10 of how accessible the new system is, I’d give it a two,” Stafford said.

While there are other options to get to the UO campus, such as Ride/Source and Handi-Cab, both services charge their riders. For Handi-Cab, Peterson said it costs $25 to get to campus if a person lives one block off of campus.

“I like what I do and I love the students and staff,” Peterson said. “I’m not frustrated; I’m angry. I don’t want to lose my job over it, but something needs to be done.”

Peterson said the Access Shuttle mainly receives funding from subsidies from Johnson Hall, which pays for the bus’ gas charges. The Department of Parking and Transportation field operations supervisor provided no comment.

“When Abdullah told [the field operations supervisor] about this inaccessibility, he was told to change his schedule,” Stafford said.

Stafford and Alshabanah said they are both supported through the university in other ways, including having notetakers for their classes.

“There are helpful resources, but I’m not fully supported,” Alshabanah said.

Alshabanah and Stafford said they present on invisible disabilities every term and hope others on campus acknowledge the Access Shuttle’s current inaccessibility.

“We need just a little appreciation for what we do,” Alshabanah said.

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Olivia Decklar

Olivia Decklar

Olivia Decklar is a videographer for the Daily Emerald. You can catch her listening to Hamilton the Musical at full volume any day of the week.