Flextrans makes life harder for one U student

The U lost a student this spring simply because she couldn’t get a ride to school.

Freshman LaDoris Kelsey has applied for services from Flextrans, a service for people with disabilities operated through the Utah Transit Authority, and is waiting to be evaluated so that she can utilize the service. Flextrans is a curb-to-curb service, meaning that people are transported directly from one place to their destination.

Kelsey is not allowed to ride Flextrans with her wheelchair until the evaluation takes place-a problem that has forced Kelsey to withdraw from her classes this spring. “I can’t ride Flextrans at all until April 9, when I will be evaluated by Flextrans,” Kelsey said.

“In order to be eligible for Flextrans services…a person must go through a process in which he or she is evaluated at the Flextrans mobility center. The evaluation has both a paperwork process and an obstacle course-like test,” said Cherryl Beveridge, director for Flextrans.

The evaluation is based on physical ability, not immediate disability. After people are evaluated, they are notified by letter whether they can use Flextrans’ services, said Beveridge.

“Flextrans is a public service and cannot serve every person,” she said.

After receiving input from the public, Flextrans has made the decision to decrease the number of people eligible for services in order to promote independence and integration, said Beveridge.

“People would rather have transportation come to them because it is more convenient and less complicated,” Beveridge said. Because Flextrans is decreasing the number of people who can use its services, many have grown frustrated.

One of the main concerns that people have is that it is difficult to be re-evaluated once someone has been denied.

Beveridge said that the reason that it is so difficult for people to be re-evaluated is because it costs Flextrans money each time a person is evaluated, and not everybody has a legitimate reason for re evaluation.

So they are asked again to get written documentation explaining changes in their abilities from a doctor, and then are notified by letter whether or not they can be re-evaluated, Beveridge said.

However, even if a person is not re-evaluated immediately, all applicants are allowed to be re-evaluated every three years.

This is one of many issues disabled people face, Kelsey said. “Some disabled people have no other source of transportation, so when they are unable to ride Flextrans, their independence and lives are put on hold,” said Kelsey.

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