Op-Ed

Small LexTran route changes could make libraries more accessible

Lextran buses at the Transit Center in downtown Lexington.
Lextran buses at the Transit Center in downtown Lexington. Herald-Leader

We are mentoring partners in Latitude Artist Community's LifeLab program, which pairs a mentor with a person who wishes to explore the community. LifeLab partners work together to access community resources and create chances to contribute meaningfully to our community.

In November and December we worked on becoming familiar with LexTran, Lexington's public bus system. We chose places that LifeLab partners often go, such as libraries, YMCAs and shopping centers, with easy and/or inexpensive access to community resources. We got bus system maps and found the best routes to our destinations. We learned about the free trolley downtown, how to pay a reduced fare, transfer and generally use the route timetables to plan our trips, with the goal of compiling this information for other LifeLab participants.

We were happy to see that all buses and trolleys have places for wheelchairs, "kneeling" doorways and priority seating for elders and people with disabilities. But we also found something that worried us.

Two of Lexington's biggest libraries, Beaumont and Tates Creek, are inaccessible by regular LexTran bus. On the No. 3 Tates Creek route, the closest stop, 0.6 miles from the library, is at Tates Creek and Armstrong Mill, where the bus turns east away from Tates Creek. The stop is on dirt next to a very narrow shoulder and many yards from the intersection. There is no sidewalk. There are sidewalks on th eother side of Tates Creek, a very busy four-lane road, but it's still a 10-minute uphill walk to the library.

The stop in the other direction is even more dangerous, about a half-block from Tates Creek and closer to the road. When we made our trip, it had been raining and we had to walk through mud. The situation at Beaumont is almost the same, except one stop is at least on the same side of Harrodsburg Road as the library, and it's 0.4 miles to the library.

In other words, a person with any kind of mobility issue, or whose vision is impaired, could never get to two of the city's finest libraries using the bus. Sure, they could use Wheels door-to-door transportation if they qualify under Medicaid, but why shouldn't they be able to take the regular bus? What's the point of having space for wheelchairs if people with wheelchairs, or even elders who need some kind of support to walk, can't get to two of the city's best resources?

Libraries provide free computer access, classes, community events, information and entertainment. Shouldn't people be able to get to them easily?

Right now there is no bus that goes into Beaumont Circle (where there is a YMCA, another inaccessible community resource). The Tates Creek bus turns off the main road before it even gets to the library. If these buses just made slight detour to stop at these libraries, would it really inconvenience anyone?

It's a shame it's assumed that anyone who wants to use these libraries must own a car.

LexTran needs to re-route the No. 3 Tates Creek and No. 13 Beaumont buses to provide better access for everyone in the community.

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