December 3rd is International Day of People with Disabilities

December 2, 2022 SacRT Blog

However, at SacRT, our dedication to our riders is 365 days a year, just ask SacRT GO driver Jose Morales

The Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) joins groups worldwide this weekend in observing International Day of People with Disabilities. But at SacRT, our commitment to independence through mobility is not a one-day thing.

Just ask Jose Morales.

Morales is one of many SacRT GO paratransit service bus drivers who offer daily door-to-door rides to persons with disabilities, transporting them to banks, stores, medical appointments, work, family visits or recreational events to ensure independence, reducing social isolation.

It’s a big job. Riders with disabilities make up an estimated 15 percent of all SacRT users. They are the fastest-returning group to public transit in the post-COVID era.

Morales, 34, a six-year driving veteran, handles it with a smile. Riders and coworkers describe him as friendly, approachable and patient. Morales says it’s a pleasure to help riders, and he finds it educational to interact with his customers.

“Our service is really important, because this is the only way most of our passengers are able to go from one place to another,” he said. “They need the service. It gives them the opportunity to be independent again.”

“To see them going to see their family, going to the doctor, going to a store, even going to a park, and seeing them happy every time they are able to ride with us, that’s really rewarding to me.”

SacRT’s approach follows the philosophy the United Nations expressed in its statement for International Day of Persons with Disabilities: “The commitment to realizing the rights of persons with disabilities is not only a matter of justice; it is an investment in a common future.”

This week, Morales pulled up at a bank building on Florin Road to pick up a regular customer. Mary Walker, 66, was waiting, several grocery bags strung over her walker handlebars. A former restaurant cook, Walker had to give up driving after suffering two strokes. She grinned when Morales stepped out of the shuttle bus.

“Look at you! You got a nice haircut!” she told Morales.

“Let’s get you on board,” he said, lowering the hydraulic lift at the rear door of the bus. He guided her onto the lift, then stood with her on the lift as it rose, his right hand poised lightly on her back to steady her.

It was a day of chores for Walker. She’d been to the 99 Cents Only store and the bank, and now she was off to Walmart, where she said she may buy something … or may not.

“I’m a looky-loo,” she said. “I’ll see what the deals are.”

Walker said she’s grateful for SacRT GO Paratransit Services, which picks her up at a site of her choosing and drops her off directly where she wants to go. She said riding the bus is fun because it’s social.

“A lot of times I like to mingle with other people on the bus,” she said. “All the drivers are really nice. Jose has an outgoing personality. He’s a caring person. When he picks me up, he is always concerned if I need assistance. And I don’t refuse.”

SacRT GO Paratransit Services is only one of several services and accommodations offered by SacRT for persons with disabilities.

SacRT also works closely with a group called the Mobility Advisory Council (MAC) made up of community volunteers who consult with the transit agency on access and mobility improvements.

All SacRT buses are low-floor vehicles equipped with ramps and a kneeling feature that allows the bus operator to lower the bus. The ramp is deployed for customers using mobility devices, as well as those with mobility related issues.

All light rail stations have ramps or lifts for mobility device accessibility except the 12th & I Station where only north-bound trains to Watt/I-80 are accessible. A soon-to-arrive fleet of modern low-floor light rail vehicles will provide more accessibility for persons utilizing mobility devices.

And SacRT’s microtransit SmaRT Ride app-based shuttle service allows people to request a ride that will pick them up either at or close by their desired pickup location and take them to locations within the service zone. SmaRT Ride shuttles are all equipped with lifts.

SacRT ADA and accessibility information: 

SacRT’s main ADA and Accessible Services web page is at: http://sacrt.com/accessible/

SacRT’s ADA Compliance Officer is reachable at (916) 321-BUSS (2877), Option 2 then Option 1. Or by emailing accessible@sacrt.com. Customers may also contact Customer Advocacy at 916-321-BUSS (2877), option 3 then option 6.

For information about SacRT GO Paratransit Services call 916 321-BUSS (2877), select option 2, for Reservations select option 2 again. The reservations line is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Visit sacrtgo.com to learn more.

International Day of People with Disabilities:

The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) on December 3 was proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly. The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. Learn more about International Day of People with Disabilities at idpwd.org/.