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'They are getting sick and tired of being sick and tired' | TARC riders with disabilities left with no rides

Users of TARC's para-transit service are leaving disabled customers outside for hours, with no help.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Avid TARC users with disabilities are still facing life threatening problems. As they continue to get left on the streets, wondering where their para-transit drivers are, advocates are questioning if things will ever change.

"TARC needs to be totally reorganized at the management level," said Marcellus Mayes, the President of the Metro Disability Coalition who is also blind and uses the service. "What I'm hearing are calls and frustrations and concerns and cries of many disabled persons that are getting sick and tired of being sick and tired."

This message is even stronger after the former TARC director Ferdinand Risco resigned amid sexual assault allegations. 

Users of TARC's para-transit service are leaving disabled customers outside for hours, with no help.

"What I hear from TARC right now is they don't care their not listening or whether we're left out at night or in the day for several hours and no way to contact people," Mayes said. "You have a lot of people that cannot bend their legs, you have a lot of persons with lung problems, you have down syndrome children that have been left."

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At the beginning of February, drivers did not show up to work because of a pay dispute, which Theo Hamilton, TARC's union leader, understands. But he says from them not showing up for people's rides, to not having the proper vehicles to cater to disabilities, the local transit leader is preventing people from getting the care they need.

"If you need that service and you have to get to some place to save your life and you can't get there, that's horrible man," Hamilton said.

Some of the inconsistency is in response to TARC switching contractors for the program, but Hamilton says, regardless of the contract, this is not the answer.

"The service should be in house, bring it back in house," Hamilton said.

"For a lot of us that depend on this service, which is very essential, for us that cannot adequately access fixed route anymore, we deserve to have quality service and we expect that we should have accessible service," Mayes said

TARC will be switching from First Transit to MV Transportation on April 1st.

But Mayes and Hamilton say regardless of the transit company, these problems are not just affecting people locally, they are hurting those with disabilities all over the country.

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