Sunday, July 19, 2009


I have been dealing with Tri Met LIFT service up close and personally for the past 20something years. LIFT is the transportation service used by people with disabilities, who for one reason or another are unable to use the bus/MAX systems in Portland.They receive payments from both federal and state government to provide rides as needed. In fact, there is an oversight committee that meets monthly which is comprised of people with disabilities, whose job is to ensure that this service as well as fixed route (buses and MAX) adhere to ADA requirements, making transportation "user friendly" for people with disabilities in Portland and its' suburbs.

For the past few years I've been receiving the agendas and minutes for these committee meetings as I like to see for myself what is being discussed. I've also been aware for years that Tri Met skews the reality of LIFT performance, probably to make sure the dollars keep coming in. I mean, if the funders of LIFT knew how badly they truly perform, they may choose to not continue to pay for bad service. On July 10th I received the minutes from their meeting back in June. As I read along, I was taken back by what one of the committee members said. A member "commented the LIFT performance report statistics on complaints being down 40 percent is good, and he noticed a reduction in LIFT ridership."

Flash back to a LIFT ride my autistic nephew experienced a litle bit more than a month ago. I wrote the following to the membership of the committee that same day..."I'm unsure as to whether or not this is the appropriate place to send this email, but I believe it's important that all the people on this list see it. Of course complaints are down 40%, when the office for LIFT doesn't follow up or return calls to complaintants. I called them over a month ago to complain that my nephew, who uses LIFT, drove around for an hour and 40 minutes with his driver before being dropped off at my house. I left the message on their voicemail with a request that they call me about it. I Still haven't heard back from them regarding my complaint."

A few additional points merit a mentioning here.

1.)6 years ago I met with Bob Nelson (a Tri Met administrator) along with 3 LIFT riders who told him their PERSONAL stories of how badly LIFT was performing. He shrugged it off without taking any action.

2.) I have complained repeatedly over the years, and unless I FOLLOWED UP on my complaint, I never have heard back from them.

3.) When I asked the driver who brought my nephew to my house if he thought lugging someone around for an hour and 40 minutes is an ok thing to do, he said "no", to which I replied "It's time to change the system". His response was "Good luck with that".

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