The planning process for a STAR user
In the audio, a participant describes emailing STAR at 2:30 p.m. the day before the focus group to request a 9:30 a.m. appointment time the day of the focus group. She explains that this means STAR will pick her up so that she arrives by 9:30 a.m. the next morning. However, she called at 9:30 p.m., the evening before the focus group to confirm her ride. She learned that the ride was scheduled for a 9:30am pickup time with a confirmed pick-up time of 9:50 a.m. This twenty minute difference in route computing meant she would not arrive on time for the 9:30 a.m. focus group. She then called staff at CDTA, who advised she might have to call early the next morning to talk to staff members directly involved in coordination. A staff person was able to change the pick-up time in the computer system the night before to work towards ensuring she would arrive on time.
Travel to a bus stop and absence of shelter
In this clip, a participant describes taking the 450 bus home from work late at night, from a stop without a shelter, near Freemans Bridge Road. This was particularly uncomfortable in the winter due to rain, snow, and wind at times. He called CDTA to request a shelter, on advice that CDTA will do something if you make the complaint. After a number of months, there was still no shelter.
Onboarding and built environment challenges
Participants describe many sidewalks being in a condition that preclude the use of strollers along them. Respondents state a requisite need to push strollers in the street, which “a lot of people don’t like.” We can presume the respondent’s “a lot of people” references motorists. Getting double strollers on the bus can also be extremely difficult. The safety hazard mitigation rule is that you should fold your stroller before boarding. However, participants with two children in a double stroller noted that the children then have to get out, and the parent may need to hold one child and the stroller, while also ensuring the other child stays close to board the bus. Some drivers understand traveling with children and will kneel the bus or put the ramp down so the stroller can be lifted on to the bus. Some drivers don’t emote or exercise patience. The process inhibits other people whose focus is arriving to work on time. A participant stated that she tries to walk the distance to her destination, rather than take the bus. Her reason is twofold. She states that the bus is often not on time, and she is concerned about inconveniencing others. Another site specific respondent expressed interest in preferential seating for parents with young children in addition to people with disabilities.
Riding a bus to seasonal work in Saratoga Springs
In this recording about the region’s workforce needs, a participant asserts that there should be two vehicles on the Route 450 bus leaving for Saratoga Springs about 7:50 a.m. because there are so many people that people fight for seats on the bus. The extra bus means that people leaving work will have to stand for the hour-long ride.
Exiting a bus and safety
Multiple participants describe being bothered by “bums” at bus stops who make them uncomfortable due to the inappropriate questions asked and pursuant anger. Some participants know which bus stops are problems, and try to avoid them if they have enough time. One respondent describes a police officer who pointed a gun at him when he was on a bus that someone was thought to have boarded after robbing a bank. This specific bus trip was his first time on the bus, and he hasn’t taken one since the incident, preferring to walk instead.
Places we cannot go
Participants at the Saratoga Senior Center describe in detail the mobility obstacles they face because a bus doesn’t go to many places they want to go, such as Hamilton Street, Saratoga Hospital, Church Street, the Senior Center, or their church supported residential living complex. At the conclusion of their social activities at the center, they could navigate to another bus at a different bus stop, but the schedule would require them to wait an hour before onboarding.
Switching modes of transportation
A participant discusses his idea of a more equitable transportation system as one that “spends less” money for cars and more for a public transportation system that values walking and bicycling. Another participant notes that people looking for a job would still need to have a car, because many employers refuse to hire people who don’t have a car. They conclude that if more people used the bus and it were funded better, the system may work better for everyone, including people looking for work.
Lack of sidewalks and the impact on destinations
A respondent who works with adults who have intellectual disabilities discusses difficulties encountered by the people she serves. This includes trying to access job locations that don’t have sidewalks. Some people can’t take the bus because there aren’t sidewalks at all. Also, they note that they are unable to prove how and why this built environment obstacle impacts the disability they have and why it should grant them access to STAR services. Uber is mentioned as an option but it would increase their transportation cost.
Technology and the Navigator Card
A respondent notes that Price Chopper can add their points to the Navigator Card immediately, but she has to wait two days to use funds added online from her personal bank account. She is a senior who also has a disability, and finds it much easier to add funds herself online than having to physically travel to a Price Chopper store.
Adjusting to technological change
After returning home in early January 2018, having been incarcerated, a respondent experiencing community re-entry issues received a number of day passes. The passes “stopped working” in April. Without a Navigator Card, he couldn’t get a day pass, and the cash fare is more.
Technological impact on transit
An agency staff member describes the STAR application process as lacking a mechanism to keep applicants up-to-date on the progress of their application. However, she also notes that any online system should not encumber the ability for people who don’t have an internet service provider or someone who understands online systems they can call for assistance. In addition, any web-based system of service delivery should enable a person with limited digital literacy to permit and approve third party access in order to communicate with STAR on their behalf. Doing so may foster the use of streamlined online communication, even for those people who don’t have residential internet service or a direct means of access.
Accessible and affordable transportation
A participant describes paying $250 for accessible van transportation from Saratoga Springs to the Albany bus station the prior year, because it was the only accessible transportation available to her. She asks if the bus company could look into making accessible cabs available in the Capital region having used them in Manhattan.
Travel destination, aging, and distance
Participants discuss population trends in Saratoga County and state that the fastest growing segment of new residents are people over 85 years old. This demographic shift also increases the need for public transportation services for seniors and a population that increasingly will face physical impairment and many types of disabilities.