The following is a transcript of testimony given by Julie Reiskin at the Senate Transportation & Energy Committee hearing (Part 1) on February 18, 2020.
Thank you, Madam Chairman, members of the committee. My name is Julie Reiskin. I represent the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition. Kristen was here. She uses Access-a-Ride and you don’t get to change your going home time, so that’s why I think she’s no longer here. I hope she’ll be able to come back on March third because she has a lot of important information to give you.
We want to thank the sponsors and are very much in support of Senate Bill 151 in that this is a pro-RTD bill. This bill is all about making RTD sustainable, stronger and better. Those of us who have disabilities, particularly those who are not able to drive because of their disabilities, and particularly those of us who use power chairs who don’t have any other option like Uber or Lyft or cabs or anything, do rely on RTD exclusively. We don’t get to get rides with friends. We don’t get any other options, so it is very, very important to us.
Without RTD, we don’t have jobs. We don’t have the ability to live independently. So it is really the key to our independence. But we don’t want a system just for people with disabilities. We don’t want a system who are affected by Title Six because if it’s only a system for poor folks and disenfranchised folks, it’s never gonna be a good system. We want a system that works for everyone, but we see ourselves as the canaries in the coal mine. If it works for us, it’ll work for everyone.
So that’s really what we wanted to say and that’s why we’ve been working very hard on this bill and why we support it. Our attorneys are here to speak. It’s not a secret, I think, that our organization has sued RTD in the past. I don’t think it’s been perpetual litigation. It’s been three times in the past thirty years. But that is necessary to be able to make changes when there is out-and-out discrimination that we can’t get solved any other way and we need to be able to do that at a lower level and literally not have to make that a federal case. We need to be able to solve it at a much lower level, and our attorneys can address that. But we want to see RTD strong for everyone, for the entire community. We want to see the train go to Boulder.
We want to see it work the way it’s supposed to work, and those of us who do rely on RTD have really been affected by the driver shortages. I have a picture on my phone of just one day on my computer screen, just the lines I subscribe to, and my entire screen was filled up after it had been cleared, just one day, two hours, and so, I had to sleep at DIA because I couldn’t rely on the A-line. It really is affecting us. Paratransit has been dealing with this problem for many years, so we do need the legislature to step in and help us make it right.
Thank you for your time.