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Handivans increase Ohio State campus accessibility


The OSU CABS paratransit service offers rides within a specifically defined university area.
Credit: Courtesy of the Transportation and Traffic Management website

When Derek Upp transferred to Ohio State, he experienced the changes every transfer student faces: new classes, new policies, new people. But he had the additional challenge of finding a new way to get around campus.

Upp, a second-year in sport industry, is a quadriplegic, a person who is permanently unable to move or feel both arms and both legs. Upp was responsible for his transportation to and from class at his previous school, Ohio University–Lancaster.

“Ohio University-Lancaster is a commuter campus,” Upp said. “They don’t have dorms or anything. You drive yourself.”

For students like Upp, the OSU Campus Area Bus Service provides paratransit services, including Handivan buses that pick up students up from their residence halls and off-campus homes and take them anywhere in the defined university area, stretching from North Broadway Street to Goodale Boulevard. The service is also available for faculty and staff, according to its website.

The Office of Student Life Disability Services reviews and accepts students with permanent or temporary disabilities to use the service, said Enjie Hall, a counselor at ODS, in an email.

“For eligible students, we complete the registration form and send it to the Handivan office,” Hall said.

OSU spokeswoman for Administration and Planning Lindsay Komlanc said Transportation and Traffic Management coordinates the Paratransit services.

“TTM coordinates the assigning and training of van drivers, vehicle maintenance, daily schedules, approves off-campus trips, operates the Paratransit Dispatch telephone line, certifies and establishes system policies,” Komlanc said in an email.

Komlanc said the ridership for fiscal year 2013 was more than 22,000 people.

The budget for the services for fiscal year 2014 is expected to be about $842,000, covering expenses including vehicles, maintenance, fuel and drivers, Komlanc said.

Students participating give Paratransit their class schedules to plan pickup times, but they can call CABS to schedule transportation for other reasons, like going to a study session at the library or going to the dining halls, Upp said.

“The best way to do it is to give them your schedule for each day,” Upp, who lives in a residence hall, said. “Say you have class at 12:30 p.m., they’ll pick you up a half hour before and bring you back.”

Though Upp is able to provide his own transportation occasionally, he said Paratransit is a convenience he enjoys.

“I’m able to drive myself, but there are times when it’s raining or snowing or really cold out that I can use them,” he said. “It’s actually really nice.”


Editor’s note: The paratransit service’s budget and ridership numbers were added into this article Dec. 3.

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