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Transit mishaps shared at first accessibility advisory session

A city man who is sight-impaired has a beef with River Valley Transit.

Timothy West, a voting member of the new Williamsport Accessibility Advisory Commission, shared his experiences and his friend’s, who is blind, getting dropped off at the wrong bus stop, blocks from their homes.

“I have a friend who is totally blind and they dropped him off on the wrong street about a block and a half away,” West said. “He (his friend) called them to get them to pick him back up, or whatever, and every time they had an answer to, you know, whatever he was trying to get across to them.”

Adam Winder, River Valley Transit general manager, said the issue should never happen. The protocol, he said, is to have an operations supervisor send a van to the location to pick up the stranded patron.

West said his friend had to inform the transit employee on the other end of the phone that he was blind.

“He went through this about six or seven times to the point where the guy eventually said, ‘I don’t know how to help you’ and ‘I have to go,'” West said.

“They left him there,” West said. “One of the employees where I work had to pick him up,” West said. “This isn’t an unusual thing,” he said. “I’ve had the same thing happen. They dropped me off three blocks away and I can see so I walked to where I had to get to.”

“We should not be dropping people off on the wrong bus stop or not picking them up,” Winder said.

“That is the point of a transit company — getting people where they need to go and nobody gets left behind.”

Education of administration and staff is one purpose of the commission, said Jon Mackey, city councilman and commission facilitator.

“We want to be intentional rather than reactive,” Council President Randall J. Allison said. “It works better that way.”

Joining Allison on the Zoom session were Jon Sander, city engineer, Joseph Gerardi, city codes administrator and Chris Cooley, an information technology specialist.

Mayor Derek Slaughter was not in attendance.

“It’s a long time coming,” Mackey said of the commission, which he believed could become a valuable resource for the administration moving forward. “I am excited to see where it goes.”

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