As an Access rider who is a Black woman and a mother to a Black son, who is also an Access rider, I’m experiencing these early drop-offs by Access with a new level of fear and urgency.
Access has been dropping us off more than an hour early for our appointments — even when the buildings are closed, it’s still dark outside and in the winters when it’s raining. It’s not safe. As senior and disabled people, we’re at risk of assault and mugging and getting sick from the elements. But in June, my fear as a Black mother with a Black son and these early drop-offs reached a new level of fear of mortal danger.
My son is 56 and has a bad back, so he rides Access, like I do. Last week, Access dropped him off early for his dentist appointment before the building was even open.
Then here come the police saying, “You can’t be here.”
“Where am I supposed to go?” my son asked.
“There’s a McDonald’s,” the officer shot back.
That’s three blocks away! My son couldn’t have complied even if he wanted to.
Luckily someone from the dentist’s office heard the commotion and opened the door for my son. Praise God. They didn’t have to. What if they hadn’t done that?
It doesn’t take much for a White cop to kill a Black man. I could’ve had a dead son.
What about next time? My son still goes to this dentist. What if the same cop sees him and says, “Hey, I told you not to wait here?” What if the cop is having a bad day? What would the scenario be then?
I could have a dead son and then these cops on TV lying for each other making up a story about my son.
No. These early drop-offs need to stop. Period. I can’t be one of those mothers who lose their son to these White cops.
King County Auditor’s Office released their audit of King County Metro Access Paratransit on June 13. The audit reveals that Metro allows subcontractors to drop Access riders off up to an hour before their appointment even though federal regulations state that the acceptable drop-off window is only a half hour before the appointment. Many riders report being dropped off even more than an hour early. The audit also reports that Metro entered into multiple contracts with incentives for poor service. Access riders, caregivers and service providers are petitioning the King County Council to cancel the current request for proposals (RFP) for the next 10 years of Access service and to create an oversight board comprised of riders, caregivers and advocates to oversee a new RFP that addresses concerns presented in the recent audit.
Have something to say? Real Change accepts letters to the editor. Send a note to Editor Aaron Burkhalter at aaronb (at) realchangenews (dot) org or visit “Write the Editor.”
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