On Aug. 9, Sally Johnston, the President of Disabled in Action of Greater Syracuse sent a warning letter to Centro Executive Director Frank Kobliski, detailing the ways in which the new Transit Hub discriminates against the elderly and people with disabilities. In some instances, the new hub, set to open Sept. 4, is not even in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The letter was endorsed by several organizations, including: Syracuse ANSWER, CNY Chapter of the NYCLU and the Syracuse/Onondaga chapter of the NAACP.
Some of the ways that the new Transit Hub is discriminatory include:
- The new Transit Hub has only 47 seats. The current hub has 109 seats. Based on an informal survey, there are approximately 94 people waiting for buses at any given time during the hours of 9:30 am and 5:30 pm.
- Bus stop signs installed above each bus bay are too high. The signs are 14 feet above the platforms and impossible for individuals who are visually impaired to see.
- Disability activists were told by Betty Petrie, of Centro, that there would be a pole at each bus bay with a digital display of the name and route number. A button would allow persons who are blind/visually impaired to hear information. At the recent tour, we were told that CENTRO officials decided not to put those in.
- The signs above each of the 3 platform bays do not use the high contrast color combinations (e.g., light print on a dark background) required in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
- Additionally, the edging of the curbs are not marked with high contrasting color. This could be very dangerous for a visually impaired person and to the general public.
- The new hub violates first amendment free speech rights, as free speech is going to be restricted to certain "zones."
The above information is based on a tour of the hub provided to Johnston and other community members. When they voiced some of the above concerns, they were told by a Centro official that people with disabilities can be "trained" on how to find their buses and get around the facility, a severly ableist and condescending statement.
Johnston has given Centro 10 days to respond to the letter and set up a meeting to begin to correct these issues. If Centro fails to respond, DIA will call on the community to mobilize. ANSWER Syracuse stands ready to fight back against Centro for full accessibility for people with disabilities and for the rights of all people to use the new Transit Hub.