I recently toured the Valley Metro Mobility Center. Parked inside the building is a real bus along with a bus stop. The bus was driven in when the office was being built, and the center was built around it! The Valley Metro Mobility Center is dedicated to helping the elderly and those with impairments regain their independence—it helps them to ride Valley Metro transportation, such as buses and light rail. Between 430 and 530 people come to the Mobility Center each month, which means that many people are gaining the ability to use public transportation.
My tour was led by James Rosa, Project Manager, and Brenda Kreitinger, Assistant Project Manager, and we were joined by Dolores Nolan, the Community Relations Coordinator. Kreitinger manages travel training, a service that teaches those who have never used public transport how to use it.
All Valley Metro buses have the capability to kneel, or get closer to the curb to assist passengers. The buses are also equipped with a ramp for those who cannot climb stairs. Each bus has a wheelchair securement area with hooks to keep the wheelchair stable, and all bus drivers are trained to secure the wheelchairs. People with canes and walkers can use the ramp, or they can ask the driver to make the bus kneel, making the stairs more accessible. For those with hearing impairments, stops are signaled in rolling text. For those with visual impairments, thereis an audio cue.
The Mobility Center has a walking course with different surfaces, ramps, signs, and even a working street light. People with impairments can go through an interview process that helps Valley Metro determine their accessibility issues. The walking course also is used to help people address problems they might have getting to a bus stop or light rail platform.
The Valley Metro Mobility Center helps those who have never used public transportation by teaching them how to use it. Travel training includes using the walking course and walking the person to an actual bus stop or light rail station. The travel trainer can help the individual figure out where they will stop and when their stop comes up. The travel trainer will go through the process with the individual as many times as needed for them to feel comfortable using public transportation.
Another service, paratransit, is a smaller vehicle that goes from door to door to help people with impairments get around. There are several systems of paratransit—one is Dial A Ride. If you would like more information about the Mobility Center or to make an appointment, call 602-716-2100 or visit www.valleymetro.org/mobility-center .
Did You Know?
Valley Metro buses are environmentally friendly. In one year, there are approximately 50 million riders. Since they are shared rides, it saves fuel and prevents the emission of greenhouse gases. Ninety-five percent of the buses use compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas or clean burning diesel as fuel. Not only that, but the seats of the Express busesare made of recycled plasticand bottle caps!