Blind woman turns to I-Team after she was left stranded by RTA

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CLEVELAND- The FOX 8 I-Team is investigating what happened to a blind 68-year-old great-grandmother after her ride with RTA Paratransit didn’t show, and she was left stranded with her 7-year-old granddaughter. And what happened when she called RTA police left her furious.

Last month, Theresa McKenney says she and her granddaughter sat on a bench in University Circle waiting for a ride through Paratransit they had scheduled in advance. But the bus never came. Darkness fell. And Theresa said she couldn’t get through to anyone at Paratransit.

She told the I-Team, “I’m blind, and I’m a female, and my granddaughter’s a female, and I’m thinking of everything I’m hearing on the news, and I was just scared for us.”

So she called 911. Ended up transferred to RTA police. She hoped police would get through to Paratransit for her, or give her a ride.

The officer on the phone, though, said, “I mean, we’re not a transportation part of the company. We only go to jail.” He added, “This is the police department. You understand that, right?”

Police told Theresa her ride would come at any minute. But she told the I-Team the wait became much longer. She couldn’t even get any comfort on the phone.

She can be heard asking the officer on the phone, “You can’t hold on with me in case something happened to me?” He responded, “What do you mean, hold on? You want me to stay on the phone with you?”

RTA says, first, the Paratransit ride should have been on time, or the service should have been up front about being late and how late. Next, RTA says, its police officers should have sent an officer to wait with the woman and her grandchild, or should have taken them home.

RTA is now “investigating customer support efforts.” And, retraining that officer to “improve communication and interaction skills with the public.”

Theresa McKenney said, “Somebody needs to be disciplined. They need new training, or something to learn how to talk to people and treat people.”

RTA has also apologized directly to that rider.

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