Students involved in disability activism hope to gain more transit routes

Oct. 13, 2014

Audrey Jensen
[email protected]

The “Transit Matters” rally, march and buss-pass giveaway that celebrates transit and hopes to explain to Colorado Springs why transit matters, will take place Oct. 20.

Courtney Stone, independence center community organizing manager, explained that “city council is deliberating the 2015 budget on Oct. 20 and 21 so we are trying to put a little pressure on them.”

Transit in Colorado Springs includes the bus and taxi systems that are provided to those who live here.

The Community Transit Coalition, a coalition of 15 different organizations, is helping organize the rally.

“We’ve met with five of our city council members, house reps, community leaders [and others] to make transit an issue in hopes for an increase [in money towards transit systems] in the 2015 budget,” said Stone.

The Independence Center, helping to coordinate the rally with CTC, looks to be a conduit for people with disabilities to express themselves, according to Stone.

UCCS senior and former president of the Disabled Student Union Cynthia Barrum prefers to take the Mountain Metropolitan transit six-route bus to get to class. However, her traveling options became limited when the city dismissed a bus route that she depended on.

“Me and my friends became involved [in activism for disability] because it was threatening our home,” Barrum said. “If I needed to go anywhere I need to get on the bus first, including UCCS.”

“When they yanked the route, I had no access to any transportation. It felt like house arrest.” Barrum added. The Mountain Metropolitan is scheduled for each bus to arrive every half an hour on weekdays and once an hour on weekends.

“Transit is a huge need for people with disabilities, because for many, it is their sole source of independent transportation,” Stone said. “When people want to get to jobs, medical appointments, or do simple things like grocery shopping, they often rely upon the bus system to do so.”

“There was one time I missed the last bus for the six-route bus. It was late and cold,” Barrum said. “I thought, what am I going to do?”

“I was 28 years old and I had to call my parents. Whenever I told someone my situation they would ask, ‘Where are your parents?’” she said. “People expect that I automatically have an adult to fall back on.”

Barrum mentioned a support group at the Independence Center on Friday afternoons to troubleshoot problems.

“It is not politically motivated,” she said.“If someone has a severe problem they can go to the support group with it, [the problem] can move from the support group to a CTC meeting.”

Stone received updated information on the 2015 budget regarding transit routes.

“The mayor has proposed a $471,000 increase in the transit budget for 2015,” Stone said. “The only step remaining is for City Council to approve the increase in the 2015 budget, which is why we are holding the rally on Oct. 20.” Stone sees a vital need to expand the transit system in Colorado Springs.

“We want to demonstrate to council how big a need for transportation is in our community and that there is a lot of power in the community to work toward increasing transportation options,” Stone said.

The CTC march is from 4:30-5:30 p.m. on Oct. 20 and will begin and end at city hall.