Norfolk, Va. — After months of letter writing, a press conference, and meetings with executives of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) and the Board of Commissioners, the Norfolk Chapter of Virginia Organizing has won a major campaign that will benefit people with disabilities. HRT has agreed to make the following changes to the Paratransit system so that it will provide better service to its riders:
- Drivers will no longer be able to pressure customers to be ready outside of their pickup window. Customers do not have to be ready for an early arrival. If they are told differently, they should report the issue.
- There have been cases where customers have been stranded or dropped off in the wrong location. HRT made it clear with Via, the service provider, that a policy of leaving no paratransit customer behind at any time has been instituted.
- HRT instituted a new customer service department with a new local manager to handle rider complaints individually.
- HRT has corrected over 800 locations in their GPS system to ensure that riders will not be dropped off in the wrong spot.
- HRT and Via are working on sensitivity trainings to ensure that drivers know how to provide excellent service to Paratransit riders.
- HRT will have forums to lay out their new services to Paratransit riders in 2022.
“Virginia Organizing has been working diligently for years to help people in the disabled community to be treated decently by different systems they depend on for their day to day living,” said Barbara Jefferson Harris, a member of the chapter and Virginia Organizing’s State Governing Board. “We have gained ground with public transportation. We have worked to put pressure on HRT and the Paratransit system so that people with disabilities can go to doctors, to their jobs, and everywhere else they need to go. We thank HRT for working with us to make these changes.”
Reid Eaton, a member of the Norfolk Chapter, sees improvements already.
“I ride Paratransit and I am happy with the improved service so far, and I’m proud to be part of a group that advocates to make a difference in the Hampton Roads community,” Eaton said.
To interview a spokesperson for this campaign, please contact Meghan McNamara at 847-922-1213 or Meghan@virginia-organizing.org.