A bus in an office

Krystal maneuvers into the wheelchair seating on the mock bus.
Krystal is the first customer to practice boarding using Capital Metro's new "mock bus"--a full-size section of a real Capital Metro bus, installed at the downtown facilitly on Congress Ave.

MetroAccess rider (and future MetroBus rider) Krystal Cates is thrilled to be a new resident of Austin. Two months ago, she moved here from Liberty Hill to have better job and transportation access. She’s still on the lookout for a great job, but she’s loving the transportation choices she has now.

In Liberty Hill, Krystal had limited, one-day-a-week access to CARTS, but as a MetroAccess customer, she can schedule door-to-door rides to anywhere in the service area–already a big improvement. But, Krystal wants to amp up her choices and flexibility even more by learning to ride MetroBus.

“My preferred mode of transportation will most definitely be the bus,” she said, “because there’s just so much more freedom with the bus.”

Capital Metro's new training bus has a farebox and working lights and wheelchair lift to simulate an acutal boarding experience. The training tool will be used during the MetroAccess eligibility process and anytime a person wants to practice how to board and ride Capital Metro.

But first she needs a bit of orientation and mobility training to get familiar with the bus system, the routes, how to board and how to ride. Krystal’s the first MetroAccess customer to benefit from our brand new “mock bus”–a section of a real Capital Metro bus, installed inside Capital Metro’s downtown facility on Congress Ave. The mock bus has a farebox, working lights and wheelchair lift to simulate a real boarding experience.

Krystal Cates and Vivian Picow
Krystal and Vivian on the training bus.

The mock bus provides a safe environment for people to get familiar with and practice all aspects of boarding the bus, including maneuvering into the wheelchair securement area. Capital Metro’s travel trainer and certified orientation and mobility specialist Vivian Picow will work with interested customers one-on-one or in a group setting to overcome challenges to riding public transportation.

Now that Krystal has mastered the boarding process via the mock bus, she and Vivian will “take it to the streets” and practice skills such as orientation, recognizing and activating pedestrian and traffic signals, sidewalks, etc.

According to Vivian, “We take some things for granted when we live in the city, for example, pedestrian signals and the flow of traffic.” Krystal didn’t have many of those to navigate in Liberty Hill.

Here in Austin, Krystal is looking forward to getting the hang of it, as she is a busy woman with places to go and people to see. Aside from getting to/from her internship at the Texas Gay-Straight Alliance, she’s ready to hit some music venues and generally get to know all that the city has to offer.  In her spare time Krystal writes poetry and wants to be a songwriter. She’s looking forward to learning how to ride MetroRail, too, to visit her parents in Liberty Hill.

Do you know someone who could benefit from one-on-one training to learn how to ride the bus? Seniors and persons with disabilities can work with Vivian, free of charge. Call 512-369-6083 to learn more.

Here’s a poem written by Krystal Cates–enjoy!

Krystal Dawn Sarah Cates

Imprisonment; within my own body-
What hell this is to me;
To speak, to hear, to see,
To be truly free!

The ever-living light that dwells inside,
Shines greater than the heavenly light outside,
But continues to be oppressed by never-ending sorrow,
Does hope exist for tomorrow?

Confined to this place, the walls surround in spite and hate,
To shut me from the outer world…I fail to relate.
Still, I attempt to communicate,
But only frustration escapes,
Pure fury exudes me,
And I express this in abusive behavior,
To see if my anger will release my savior.

The free misunderstand this repeated plea,
As a natural demeanor common to me,
If one would only look beyond and see,
The joyful light that always dwells,
Within this everlasting hell.

Revelation is known to me,
This is but a mere dream,
This is not a girl’s fantasy,
But dire necessity….

Published in issue #30 of WILD’s The Writers’ Block, Fall 2005.
copyright 2006, Krystal Dawn Sarah Cates

 for Helen Keller and Cheryl Anthony


3 thoughts on “A bus in an office

  1. Robin

    The mock bus could be a good idea.

    But how would the agency still address the too-high fare boxes on some of the real-life fixed route buses?

    Or the lack of sidewalks (and ramps) on some of the routes which we would have to otherwise use, making travel dangerous?

  2. Robin

    And what will the agency do about portions of routes where the stops ARE spaced far from the final destination?

    The ‘training bus’ and orientaton only cover so many scenarios. They do not address the very real barriers we can face with travel.

  3. Pingback: Check out the MetroAccess Eligibility & Mobility Training Center this week « Capital MetroBlog

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