Jared will have a wheelchair-accessible bus stop | NevadaAppeal.com

Jared will have a wheelchair-accessible bus stop

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer

Jared Dempsey is helped off a Carson City School District bus by the driver on Koontz Drive on Wednesday. BRAD HORN/ Nevada Appeal

Transit officials will begin evaluating wheelchair accessibility at all Carson City bus stops following a complaint from a 16-year-old teen with cerebral palsy.

Patrick Pittenger, city transportation program manager, said Friday that Jared Dempsey, who uses a motorized wheelchair, will have an accessible bus stop added in front of his home. But the hard part will be determining if every bus stop in Carson City is wheelchair accessible.

“We’re going to have to catalogue every single bus stop and determine the priority (of fixing them) and how much it’s going to cost,” he said.

Virginia Dempsey said she is happy to hear that the Koontz Lane bus stop will be fixed to accommodate her son’s wheelchair.

“I do appreciate them working on this in a timely manner,” she said Friday. “I think Jared will be happy. There was a lot of waiting time for him and traveling time.”

The Koontz Lane bus stop is made inaccessible by a fence abutting a 4-foot-wide sidewalk. Pittenger said the bus stop will be moved closer to the driveway of a mobile home park where a section of gravel landscaping can be paved, with permission of the private land owners.

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Jared started travel training this summer, but he has been unable to use the bus independently because of several inaccessible bus stops, his occupational therapist said. Independent travel is an integral stage of occupational and emotional growth for the disabled.

Altering Jared’s bus stop will “cost thousands,” Pittenger said. “Sidewalks like this are all over the city.”

The transit official said he’ll bring this issue up at next Wednesday’s Regional Transportation Committee meeting.

Five-foot-wide sidewalks are the new standard for the city. The older sidewalks can not accommodate wheelchairs that have to maneuver onto a bus lift, which is often dropped onto the sidewalk in some places where the bus can’t pull farther out into traffic.

Jared will soon have one bus stop that he can access without assistance, but it could take much longer to ensure that he’ll make it back from his destination independently.

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.