Disabled Utahns are willing to stop buses and go to jail in order to force Greyhound Lines to facilitate their needs, protester Mark Smith said Thursday. Following up on their Tuesday protest in front of the Salt Lake Greyhound terminal, members of American Disabled for Accessible Public Transportation confronted Greyhound officials Thursday demanding action on their requests.Smith, an ADAPT member, said the disabled are frustrated with Greyhound's blatant discrimination and lack of cooperation.
"We want to keep the pressure up. Maybe we will post someone at the depot every day until our demands are met. We don't want to get mean and ugly, but we don't want to be ignored either."
But Greyhound officials in Dallas say they have met with the national leaders of ADAPT in August and both groups agreed to study issues of dispute further. Another meeting will be held within a month between ADAPT and Greyhound.
Liz Hale, spokeswoman for the bus line, told the Deseret News, "It's baffling to us why there are continued protests when both parties are working on a solution to the situation. It's unfortunate."
She said Greyhound is concerned that someone may accidentally be harmed as ADAPT members place themselves in front of buses in protest.
ADAPT members are requesting that Greyhound:
-Equip every Greyhound bus with a wheelchair lift.
-Drop the policy that requires wheelchair-bound persons to travel with an attendant.
-Not require a physician's certification of their handicap.
-Allow disabled persons to board the bus with wet-cell batteries used to power their electric chairs.
ADAPT member Barbara Toomer said Greyhound Corp. has the capacity to make wheelchair-equipped buses now. Such buses are used in Canada, California and Colorado, she said. "They have the capacity to build lift-equipped buses. Why don't they do it nationally?"
Greyhound Lines is a different company than Greyhound Corp., responds Hale.
It would cost about $20,000 to equip each bus with a wheelchair lift. "We're a privately owned company and don't receive federal funds for lifts as city transit authorities do," she said.
The Greyhound subsidiary has applied for a grant to use toward designing an experimental bus that would be accessible to the disabled. The company has proposed creation of an advisory group comprised of some ADAPT members, Hale said.
The bus line currently operates Helping Hands, a program that provides a free ticket for disabled people who are unable to travel by themselves.