More MBTA Plans

I have a disability that prevents me from being as involved in disability issues as much as I would like – but I do try to stay on top of local issues.

Apparently, Governor Patrick will give the money normally spent for snow removal to help the MBTA’s finances, which will help all riders on the system. I’m happy to have learned this, but I also realize this will only help for about one year – so we need to watch any potential plans to change service in the future.

However, while I was looking at the MBTA website, I came across something else that concerns all clients who are physically disabled who take the MBTA’s door to door service, The Ride.  As someone who depends on this service,  I know how crucial it is for so many people. (I also know how difficult and frustrating it is to get through yet more red tape while in pain, and while having physical limitations).

The MBTA is changing the way they determine eligibility for services this year. Starting in June, all new applicants with physical disabilities will be required to have an in-person evaluation by a physical therapist employed by the MBTA. They will start re-evaluating their remaining clients in September.

Frankly, I am furious. The potential cost for the MBTA for this at a time when the service is cash-strapped is mind boggling, along with what I consider a violation of my own (and everyone who is disabled) personal rights. We have Federal HIPAA compliance laws in place, and am concerned this will be a violation. But I am also highly concerned about the cost to the MBTA, and the  time and difficulty it will cause everyone who is disabled. There is nothing written (that I’ve been able to find) showing us what are the determining qualifications for these therapists they intend to hire.

While I have the highest respect for those in the field, I question whether the physical therapists they will employ are more qualified than a physician who, for instance, has studied  at Harvard University, has published numerous papers and participated in extensive studies, and has years of experience at teaching hospitals such as MGH or Boston Medical Center. I realize not every physician has these extensive qualifications, but many have similar backgrounds, and all, of course, have to graduate medical school and are licensed before they can practice! What does this say about the level of trust the MBTA has in the physicians’ ability to evaluate and determine the extent of a person’s disability?

To me, this is an obviously attempt to disqualify as many clients as possible, and it is an insult to those of us who are disabled.

This is the link to the MBTA site where this change is mentioned:



2 replies on “More MBTA Plans”

  1. Trying to use The Ride as a disabled person was so frustrating and hopeless, I cannot imagine how they could make it more difficult. I can very generally accept it’s too hard in a down economy to fix their management issues, but to kick poor-sick off of service just to cover the bureaucracy ought to be opposed on principle.
    The misery index of disabled people who need The Ride and use it is either so high or service is not available, I cannot see how this goes unchecked. I can imagine it’s too hard in a down economy to fix management issues, but to kick the very people this service was designed to serve off, just to cover the bureaucracy ought to be opposed on principle. Cancel some management positions, instead. Let the drivers schedule their own slates, it can’t get any worse than it is. I know. I was there. I didn’t get to my appointments. Just ask people who were ever on it how it really works.

    I’d love to refer you to the elderly, disabled, barely able to move on a walker, blind person they insisted climb stairs into a Ride Bus. She fell and hurt her hip trying to get into the bus when she told them she needed a sedan car. So, what do they do? Kick her off of the Ride.

    I know there is usually more need than sustenance for helping agencies. But let’s not pretend it is the needy’s fault and start telling them they’re not really needy.

  2. Clearly there are a great many persons with real disabilities who carry great burdens in life and absolutely depend on the Ride. We should all be concerned to avoid adding to their burdens.

    And I have heard from many of those persons with concerns about the service cuts.

    At the same time, some of those very people with disabilities who have contacted me with concerns about the Ride cuts have also complained of abuses by other Ride users. They describe being on the Ride with other people who are very capable of driving themselves or getting around on the MBTA but use the Ride for convenience or cost-savings.

    So, unfortunately, the MBTA does need to do a better job of screening for ride abuses. Legitimate Ride users should welcome some eligibility verification. This will protect the financial viability of the service.

    If anyone experiences undue difficulty in getting their eligibility confirmed, I would like to hear about it.

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