For those people who can’t drive because of a physical disability, the city bus is a great solution to get around and to do your everyday activities. All Metro Transit buses are wheelchair accessible with a lift and at least two wheelchair spots on each bus. All bus drivers have to stop for a wheelchair and take time to appropriately secure a wheelchair, unless the bus is already full of wheelchairs. Here are a few tips on taking the city bus.
Before you take a city bus, pick-up a Go-To card. You can put on any amount of money on the card and then it’s scanned (you pay) when you enter the bus. The Go-To card is the easiest way to pay for a person with a disability because you don’t have to struggle with cash. You can get this card at a Metro Transit shop (e.g., Mall of America just inside the doors of the transit station).
If you qualify for limited mobility, make sure to ask for the “L” on your card. This will indicate to your driver that you receive a reduced rate. Also, the card holds transfers.
Plan to be at the bus stop five minutes before the scheduled arrival time in case the city bus arrives early. Wheelchairs are supposed to go on first and go on backwards (don’t ask me why, it supposed to make it easier to park or something). The driver will then lift a seat up to make room to park your wheelchair in an available spot. The driver will then secure the wheelchair. It helps to tell the driver where you are getting off so s/he knows when you need to be unstrapped.
When you are one block away from your destination, push the signal button to remind the driver that you are getting off. The driver will unstrap your wheelchair and unfold the lift so you can get off. If you are transferring to another bus, the Go-To card will know. You just need to scan your card again on the bus that you are transferring onto.
Helpful hints: get a bus schedule in advance so you know departure and arrival times. Also, I found it helps to bring a friend along to get used to riding the city bus.
Written by: Michael L. Sack