Laketran Passenger Advisory Committee continues to serve as voice of ridership

Members continue to provide feedback, take action concerning day-to day services

The Laketran Passenger Advisory Committee was formed in the early 1990s after the passage of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, requiring transit systems to have a paratransit development plan that included public participation.

Previous to the ADA mandate, Laketran in 1986 acquired Special Transportation Services, accessible transportation for people with disabilities, creating the Laketran Paratransit Advisory Committee to provide a means for riders with disabilities to provide feedback on quality of service and express needs in the community.

The committee today, now called Laketran Passenger Advisory Committee, still referenced as LPAC, includes all interested riders and community members, although the majority of the members are seniors and people with disabilities using both Laketran’s door-to-door Dial-a-Ride service and its Local Routes 1-6.

“LPAC offers input when we test new products, like the Request-a-Ride program that was launched last year, allowing riders to book Dial-a-Ride reservations online,” stated Laketran’s Director of Communications and Marketing Julia Schick in a news release.

“They were also the first riders to test our electronic bus fare boxes and other new technologies and (vehicle) features, including track lining on floors of buses to accommodate wheelchair flexibility in the vehicles.”

LPAC meetings discuss varying topics that can include service changes, bus features, service delivery and marketing opportunities. Committee meetings are held quarterly and are open to the public.

John Hamm, who’s been riding Laketran for 30 years, is a founding member of LPAC who suggested seatbelts on Dial-a-Ride buses.

“They added them,” said Hamm. “I know Laketran addressed these concerns, and trains their employees to be patient. Everyone is so helpful. I like to share my concerns and the concerns of others, because I want to make sure all people are treated with respect.

“LPAC is important, because we talk about Laktran’s services and suggestions on how to make things better. Before every meeting, I go around the workshop and ask all my co-workers if they have any concerns they want me to talk about at the meeting.”

Willowick resident and longtime LPAC member Andrew Vogt has been riding Laketran since 1985.

“We’re the voice of the passengers,” he said. “Any questions and comments, we bring them to the table, whether it’s drivers, riders or someone from operations. They can provide these questions and comments to the person who handles these situations.

“Our goal is to get more passengers to come to the meetings and discuss how to improve conditions and the riding experience. We can think of new things. A recent concern brought to us was the limit of grocery bags you can bring on the bus, a 40-bag limit. This is our direct action.”

In June Kiner’s mind, the move to Lake County with her husband, Ken, is definitive — Laketran.

“It’s the reason we moved from South Euclid,” said the Willoughby Hills resident. “We needed to take advantage of its services. When LPAC opened up to new people to become members, we knew we wanted to do it. Laketran has so many varieties of service. It’s wonderful.

“An injury prevented driving a car, so the bus has been great getting us places and getting my husband to VA (Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center) where he volunteers. We go to a lot of activities and we see Laketran everywhere. They really do extend their quality service to everyone. And they listen to what this committee has to say. When Ken rides, I know he’s taken care of. It’s valuable.”

Ken called the transit agency a “godsend,” adding that it serves him very well.

“I’m not driving anymore, so it’s great to be able to take advantage of their services, to rely on them and the convenience they provide,” he said. “I also volunteer at Lake West Hospital (West Medical Center — Lake Health). They get me there. I really thank them for having this service.

“I’ve been riding 4 years now. The staff is very professional. Each suburb that doesn’t have something like this, I think, should introduce it, especially with so much of the population getting older, because it’s wonderful.”

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