Mixed Messages


I?m a little confused about the CTA “one- person, one-fare” ruling. Well, I?m not really confused about the ruling itself, but more about the reasoning behind it all. If you follow some of the rhetoric, it appears that we are sending out mixed messages about PWDs.

First off I see this as a civil rights issue, not an economic issue. And by that I mean PWDs should have the same access to transportation as the rest of the population. But it appears that some folks are bringing economic issues into it; and by that I mean they are implying (or outright stating) that PWDs cannot afford the economic burden of an extra seat.

Case and point is a quote taken from one article about the decision:

“To visit her family in B.C.’s Interior, Neubauer faces a long, uncomfortable car ride because she can’t afford a second plane seat for her personal care attendant. ?Most disabled people are either on fixed income or very low income. It’s a big burden for us to pay twice the cost,” said the advocate for people with disabilities’.”

Now I?m not denying that the person who was quoted may indeed face some economic obstacles, but that doesn?t mean it?s true for the whole group. Generalizations are dangerous.

And on the flipside we have that often quoted survey that touts that PWDs have a travel buying power of a whopping $13.6 billion per year.

Again, mixed messages. Are they rich or poor? Or neither? If neither, then why do economics even play into this decision?

To be fair, in the last example I actually did the math with some of the statistics provided in that survey, and I calculated that the average disabled traveler spent approximately $429 per trip. OK, not exactly chump change, but still a far cry from the champagne and caviar budget.

But I digress. Back to the CTA ruling.

Granted the whole “economic factor” behind the ruling confuses me, but then there?s the much contested issue about “obese passengers” also being included in it. Boy howdy, that really gets some folks going. The general public (as evidenced by feedback on newspaper websites) doesn?t feel they should have to pay for somebody?s “lifestyle choice, while a good chunk of the disabled community is disappointed about being lumped in with “obese passengers”. Personally, I just think it adds to the confusion.

Although I am glad that this ruling will make air travel more accessible to some people with “severe disabilities”, I?m still troubled about the mixed messages it sends.

Color me confused.