Public transportation can be a wonderful thing. These vehicles have come a long way over the years to become an asset to the independent living of people with physical disabilities. Buses with ramps are fantastic for wheelchair users, unless you are me because, well… I break them…Often.
A few years ago my family and I took a Caribbean cruise out of Miami and upon return there we were planning to take a wheelchair accessible bus from the ship to the airport. Though generally speaking this is a great idea, I was nervous because when we arrived to Miami a week earlier the bus forgot to come pick us up at the airport. After waiting for a bit we were finally shuttled to the ship and all was well, until the next bus ride.
One week later we returned to Miami where we were immediately met by an accessible bus. At this point I was expecting an uneventful ride to the airport. I was VERY wrong. After being lifted up onto the bus the driver informed me that the ramp was stuck and I would need to remain on it until he could figure out how to get me lowered to the ground again. After several hours of sitting on a ramp in the hot Florida sun another driver came to assist and the two men were able to finally get the ramp to work long enough to get me on the ground. This was quite an adventure and I did not think I would ever have to deal with bus issues again, but guess what?! It happened again.
Last week I attended the Abilities Expo where I was told I needed to take a shuttle from the parking lot to the main entrance. Yup, thats right, ANOTHER bus ride. This bus had been in business all day without issue, until I came along. I got on the ramp and rode it up like usual, the driver then lowered it effortlessly but then it happened, the ramp was stuck on ground level. After several minutes of the driver messing with the ramp controls and me laughing like a fool because it was just my luck, another driver came and the 2 men spent several minutes flipping switches and pressing buttons to no avail. Finally one of the drivers became so frustrated that he kicked the ramp... It worked! The ramp was closed, the bus drove off and luckily I was able to get off without any more problems once we got to the expo.
After the expo ended I dreaded the thought of another bus ramp because I am jinxed. When we came outside I asked a staff member if there was another route to the lot my car was in that didn't involve a bus. To my surprise the man pointed across the street where I saw the parking lot. It turns out my car was less than 50 feet away and I never needed to take the bus to begin with (I don't know how I didn't notice this earlier... Oops).
Hopefully someday my track record with broken ramps will be nothing but a distant memory. I'm a very adventurous person and under no circumstances do I let mobility issues get in my way, but for now I think I'm going to stay FAR AWAY from buses.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.