Decoding Eye-Rolling on the MBTA

1222181181We felt really guilty when we read this quote from disabled Green Line rider Deirdre Lucas in today’s Herald.

“People roll their eyes and look at you like, ‘You’re holding us all up,’ ” she says. “The other passengers and staff may not tell you directly that you’re a second-class citizen. But you sure feel like one.”

As people who’ve hastily departed trains when we see a wheelchair on the platform, we’d like to reassure Ms. Lucas that we’re not rolling our eyes because she wants to ride the train. We’re frustrated for the same reason she and other disabled passengers are—the MBTA is still unable to accommodate everyone who wants to use the service.

As non-disabled passengers, we also like the new Green Line cars, which have wheelchair ramps built in that makes it much easier for disabled passengers to board. But when we see conductors heading for the cumbersome lifts that sit on the platform, we know we’re in for a good 10 minute wait as the conductor loads the wheelchair passenger into the car.

The MBTA, which settled a class-action lawsuit from disabled riders back in 2006, says it’s doing the best it can to make all stations and trains easily accessible to everyone.

“The progress we’ve made in the last two years has exceeded expectations,” T General Manager Daniel A. Grabauskas said. “But it’s not completed by any means. . . We’re trying to go beyond compliance with the law.”

So in the five to seven years the T estimates it will take to make the entire system accessible, disabled riders should know that we’re frustrated with the glacial pace of progress from the agency, not by your desire to get around town.