Disabled vet feels excluded from July 4th event

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A disabled veteran says there is a problem with city transportation for Albuquerque’s big Fourth of July celebration.

He says it helps some but excludes others.

Albuquerque Sun Vans serve people with disabilities, like Robert Lange. The Sun Van picks him up from his location, because he can’t easily get to a bus stop in his wheelchair.

He says the service is usually great but on the Fourth of July, Sun Vans do not run.

“That is not right, you know. It’s just not right,” Lange says.

As a veteran, he says he looks forward to the city-sponsored Freedom Fourth celebration, but he can’t get there.

“What is the celebration of the Fourth without people who gave their life or their limbs or their mind to make us free,” Lange says.

Sun Vans and fixed-route buses don’t run on the Fourth of July and instead, city bus drivers shuttle thousands of people who leave their car in a designated lot and ride to Balloon Fiesta Park.

“For the city to say they don’t provide any services, that’s not right. They do provide services to a select group of people, and I unfortunately, along with all Sun Van riders, are not in that chosen bunch,” Lange says.

“It would take a monumental effort with buses that we don’t have, with drivers that we don’t have,” Rick De Reyes with ABQ RIDE says.

He says, as it is, Park and Ride requires almost all of the city buses and drivers.

“In 2008, they had something like 10,800 rides just one way. So, 20,000 rides back, which was the record,” De Reyes says.

Still, Lange thinks something can and should be done.

“Why would you exclude a group of people who have no way of getting there?” he asks.

He suggests surveying Sun Van riders first just to see how many would be interested in riding to the Freedom Fourth event.

However, ABQ RIDE says if it served Sun Van users, it would also have to serve bus riders on its regular routes, because it cannot leave anyone out. That is not feasible, according to De Reyes.

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