At the October 21 meeting of the Valley Regional Transit’s System Performance and Planning Committee, of which I am a member, a VRT staff member brought to our attention the demand of Ada County Highway District (ACHD) attorney Steve Price to shell out $400 per bus stop bench to have the benches and their access audited for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. ACHD apparently has some level of authority in the situation because the benches will be placed in their right-of-way.
I want the bus stops and benches to be accessible and ADA compliant, but paying $400 per bench to have them reviewed is outrageous. As I pointed out at the meeting, it is stories like this one that give government a bad name.
Upon further investigation, I confirmed with three individuals who advocate for the rights of people with disabilities – Kelly Buckland, who is now the Executive Director of the National Council of Independent Living, Todd DeVries, Executive Director of the Idaho State Independent Living Council, and Bobbi Ball, Director of the ADA Task Force – that the $400 per bench price tag was ludicrous. All three said they would gladly perform the task for $400 per bench but that the cost should be significantly lower.
It’s time for common sense to play a bigger factor in government decision making. I will continue to advocate for a more cost-effective process for ensuring that all of VRT’s bus stops and benches are ADA compliant and accessible.