advocates score a victory with the abolition of conditional
eligibility for STAR paratransit services
Users of STAR will no longer have to count blocks or check
the weather forecast before scheduling a trip. STAR—Special
Transportation Available by Request—is a paratransit service
offered by the Capital District Transportation Authority for
those who are unable to use or have difficulty using regular
bus routes due to disability. The CDTA Disabled Advisory Committee,
working closely with advocacy groups and CDTA executive director
Carm Basile, has abolished conditional eligibility for STAR
Previously, a rider with conditional ability would be limited
to service depending on a variety of conditions, ranging from
weather to sidewalk accessibility.
applicant would go to the doctor and the doctor would give
them eligibility but say that only if it was raining they
would need STAR or if there was no sidewalk they should have
it, and they would piecemeal it together,” said Donna Suhor,
director of the Capital District Coalition for Accessible
Transportation and a member of the Disability Advisory Committee.
“Others would call up and they would be denied because they
were within three blocks of a bus stop, but the dispatcher
would ignore the fact that the person might have to make a
transfer. Or someone with conditional eligibility for rain
would have problems making a reservation two weeks in advance.
Who knows what the weather is going to be two weeks from now?”
CDTA has agreed that the policy, which first began in 2007,
was too restrictive and confusing. Instead, people eligible
to receive STAR paratransit service will either have full
eligibility or seasonal eligibility, which limits service
to the winter months.
is a very, very big success,” Suhor said. “It’s a very positive
thing. I hope other areas in New York state hear this and
it helps other people, too.” For example, the New York City
Mass Transit Authority still has conditional eligibility.
As previously reported in Metroland, Suhor and the
CDCAT have had many complaints from STAR riders and have been
major players in advocating against conditional eligibility,
as well as what they view as an overly intensive certification
process. Similar services are required of all public transportation
systems across the country under the Americans with Disabilities
Act of 1990.
Those who wish to apply for STAR must first go through a medical
Suhor pointed to the active disabilities advocacy community
and new CDTA executive director Basile for this recent success.
“The new director seems a lot more reasonable than Ray Melleady
ever was,” Suhor said, “and we have a lot of hope for solving
a lot of STAR problems with him.”
Denise Figueroa, CDTA Board of Directors member and director
of the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley, was
also instrumental in advocating for improvements to STAR service.
were too many conditions, and it was almost an impossible
task for the dispatchers to even determine whether the trip
was eligible or not. It made sense all around, for the disability
community, obviously, but also from CDTA’s perspective to
try to simplify things.”
Suhor is also excited about the recent decision to allow more
disability organizations to join the CDTA Disability Advisory
it seemed that CDTA only wanted agencies on the Disability
Advisory Committee and not people with disabilities or those
that advocate for them, and that’s a shame,” Suhor said. “So
I’m very happy that they’re welcoming disability advocacy
Both Suhor and Figueroa said that this is only one part of
their overall goals in advocating for those with disabilities.
They both point to the current nursing home issue in Albany
County as one that will have a major impact on those with
more information on CDCAT or the ILCHV, visit mobilityfreedom.org
or ilchv.org. For more information on STAR, visit cdta.org/riding/star.php.
on Our Watch
advocacy group Save the Pine Bush held a press conference
on the steps of Albany City Hall Tuesday to announce that
they have filed suit against the city of Albany and the Department
of Environmental Conservation. The lawsuit, filed this week
in New York State Supreme Court, challenges the legality of
permits for expansion of the Rapp Road Landfill on grounds
ranging from failure to comply with current environmental
regulations to the constitutionality of the city’s bonding
of the mitigation fees. The group is also filing for an injunction
to stop construction of the expansion until the suit is resolved.
Councilman and mayoral candidate Corey Ellis (Ward 3) and
Councilman Dominick Calsolaro (Ward 1) have filed affidavits
in support of the injunction. According to Calsolaro, the
city has consistently and flagrantly failed to enforce the
permit requirements from the 1990 expansion. “The DEC,” he
said, “should not have granted the expansion until the city
can prove it is going to comply with the permit conditions.”
loose ends this week-