Evanston news delivered free to your inbox! 

A wide range of public and private accessible transportation providers currently serve the City’s mobility impaired.

But there are still some gaps in service, City officials indicated in a report to the council’s Human Services Committee on Jan. 7.

 Currently, “all Metra train stations (Main, Davis and Central) within the City are accessible,” Jessica Hyink, the city’s Transportation & Mobility Coordinator, said in her report. “However all train stations on Metra’s Union Pacific North line outside the City may not be accessible,” she said.

As a result, a passenger with a mobility issue may be able to get on Metra in the city but may not be able to get off at their chosen destination, she noted.

As for the Chicago Transit Authority, of the eight CTA train stations serving the City, only those at Davis Street and Howard Street are accessible, she found.

“The CTA is currently moving forward with the future phases project of the Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Program,” Ms. Hyink said. “The future Phases project will support conceptual planning, preliminary engineering, and public outreach efforts of the RPM Program, which includes prioritization of station accessibility to meet ADA requirements.”

Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, asked about the ride sharing services, Uber and Lyft, noting a move by
the City earlier offering to give the services some tax relief if they are providing accessible rides.

For those with disability challenges, “There is an absolute need for more on demand transportation for that community,” Ald. Rue Simmons told Ms. Hyink. “Those residents are just really immobile.”

Ms. Hyink said in her report that Lyft is providing accessible transportation to and from Evanston. She said Uber is currently piloting accessible taxi service in select cities. She said Uber drivers will drop off passengers from Chicago to Evanston, but will not transport passengers from Evanston to Chicago.

Ald. Rue Simmons called for the City to issue an  announcement, letting community members of that practice.

Ald. Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, meanwhile, expressed concern about accessibility for residents of Over the Rainbow, an apartment complex at 2040 Brown  Ave. for adults with disabilities.

Many of Over the Rainbow’s residents depend on wheelchairs to get around and are often traveling along Simpson Street, even during winter, going places.

 “Are all those sidewalks in that area ADA [American with Disabilities Act] curb cut?” he asked.

Ald. Rue Simmons, in whose ward Over the Rainbow is located, said she has been in contact with residents at Over the Rainbow “and when they had challenges, we have responded.” She said, at her request, the City has added signage along the Dodge-Simpson area, so drivers are more “mindful” about people traveling  in wheelchairs in  the area.

Simmons said too that it’s been “constant correspondence with property owners in the area, making sure their clearing their sidewalks of snow and ice so people in wheelchairs and others can use them.

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, added that there have been similar issues in her south ward with City snowplows plowing in sidewalks.

“It is not helpful if someone does shovel their sidewalk for their home and then they get to the corner,” she observed, “and there is a mound of snow that our snowplow has left there.”

Bob Seidenberg

Bob Seidenberg is an award-winning reporter covering issues in Evanston for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.