Updated 12/6 11:56 a.m.
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island student’s struggles have little to do with her wheelchair. She blames a bus service for the disabled that’s supposed to help her get to and from campus.
Gina Barbara gets around on a power wheelchair from the moment she leaves her home in Wantagh throughout the day at Hofstra University, where she’s a proud senior.
“With cerebral palsy it’s very difficult to get around,” the rhetorical studies major told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan in an exclusive report.
While one day she hopes to be a public advocate for people with disabilities, she’s currently busy trying to advocate for herself. Waiting for NICE, the Nassau Inter-County Express Able-Ride mini bus service, has lately been an ordeal for her.
“You’ve got to hope and pray that a bus is going to come and pick you up,” she said. “I’m not really clear as to why there is a problem here because able-ride has been picking me up in this location for over three years.”
Other students who use Able-Ride agree.
“I understand it’s not a personal taxi service but I would like to see more communication between dispatchers and customers,” Able-Ride patron Michael Kalberer said.
They claim dispatchers can at times be rude.
“Being able to get back and forth to school is posing a major issue for the idea of just living a normal life,” Barbara said.
Left waiting alone in the cold multiple times, Barbara said she’s been complaining to Able-Ride this entire semester.
“I called and held on for 49 minutes with no response and by the time they answered the phone, they told me the bus had left,” she said.
Hofstra responded, saying they’ll gladly help put up several Able-Ride signs on campus so drivers know where to stop.
“What is a person who is physically challenged and has no other avenue to transportation to do?” Barbara asked.
Able-Ride sent the following statement in response to CBS2’s report:
Our paratransit services director has been working directly with Ms. Barbara to resolve this issue.
Approximately three weeks ago, we requested that Ms. Barbara provide us with the exact new location at Hofstra where she wanted to be picked up.
We told her numerous times that, with that information, we can seek Hofstra’s approval, which they require.
We regret that she has been inconvenienced and that any pick-ups have been missed due to confusion over the pick-up location.
Our records indicate that we have been on time (within 5 minutes of the pick up window) 80 percent of the time.
Able-Ride provides more than 1,100 rides daily and has approximately 10,000 clients. Our overall on time record is 80 percent.
Today, we reached out to Ms. Barbara again to request this information. We will expedite her request.
CBS2 reports the Nassau County Legislature earmarked $18 million over three years for NICE Bus/Able-Ride to have a system that works.