Disabled sue MARTA, want law followed
By Milo Ippolito - Staff
November 30, 2001
Imagine taking a train where the stops have no names and the stations have no stairs to the street.
For some MARTA commuters that nightmare can be a reality when stops are not announced for the blind, and elevators for wheelchair users are broken. MARTA bus riders face similar problems, some disabled users say.
That's why six commuters with disabilities have filed a class-action suit against MARTA, with the help of an advocacy group and a Decatur law firm. The lawsuit asks the court to order MARTA to abide by the Americans with Disabilities Act by providing service comparable to that provided to able-bodied commuters.
"I feel like this is the only way they are going to listen," said Bernard Baker, a wheelchair user and plaintiff in the suit.
Baker said he spent 11 frustrating years on a MARTA committee formed to address the needs of the disabled.
"The same things this committee has been talking about for years are still going on," Baker said.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday by the Disability Law and Policy Center and the law firm Hill, Lord & Beasley, lists bad experiences MARTA users with disabilities say they have had.
A MARTA spokeswoman said the transit system would not comment until its lawyers received a copy of the lawsuit.
Visually impaired riders report frequent trips in which stops were not announced, the complaint says.
Wheelchair users report that buses often have broken lifts, and elevators are sometimes broken at train stations.
MARTA also provides curb-to-curb van service for those whose disabilities prevent them from using trains or buses. Users have reported instances when the vans arrived late, subjected them to hours-long rides while making other pickups, or dropped them off at the wrong place. One quadriplegic woman said a driver refused to help her deposit her fare. Another was stuck on a van for more than three hours and lost control of her bowels, the complaint said.