The Rider's Voice

RIDE CONNECTION | TRIMET

Program
Riders
Advocates

Program

Introduction
RideWise
Referral Form
Ride Connection, by Julie Wilcke
TriMet, by Claire Potter
Christopher Anderson

Introduction

ONE OF THE TRUTHS we learn in this life is that the easy path is not always the best path. Nor the healthiest path. Nor the most rewarding path. We also learn that what appears hard at first eventually becomes not-so-hard. Eventually. But it takes a certain amount of faith, optimism, and courage to get to that point. The riders in this book are teachers of both of these truths. The stories they tell are about taking the steps to learn to ride the buses, light rail, and commuter trains of the TriMet system in the greater Portland metropolitan area. Each of the individuals in this book sought out RideWise, a system of one-on-one training, group rides, and a network of volunteers and staff dedicated to helping more people ride TriMet. RideWise is a joint effort of TriMet and Ride Connection, a local non-profit organization that provides transportation services to the elderly and people with disabilities. The riders in this book are all RideWise participants. With the support of family, friends, health professionals, and RideWise staff and volunteers, each rider has discovered the life-changing independence that comes from riding public transit. In their own words, each person paints a different picture of the transformative powers of independence. We also hear from those who support each rider. These advocates bear witness to the powerful change that comes from being able to travel independently. We thank each rider for the stories they tell and the paths they've taken. And we hope this book encourages others to take the same path. back to program menu | back to top

RideWise

RIDEWISE helps people-both those with disabilities and older adults-who need assistance in using public transportation in the Portland metropolitan area and its surrounding suburbs. This program is a collaborative effort between TriMet, the regional transportation agency, and Ride Connection, a local not-for-profit organization. RideWise provides individual travel training to help people learn how to ride buses, light rail, streetcar or even Portland's aerial tram. They give people the confidence and skills to use public transportation so they may lead full and independent lives. RideWise serves the following regions: Portland Tri-County area (TriMet, Portland Streetcar, Portland Aerial Tram), South Clackamas (South Clackamas Transit District), Sandy (SAM), Wilsonville (SMART), and Canby (CAT). back to program menu | back to top

Referral Form

Services Provided by RideWise Individualized and group travel training with a trained RideWise staff person. Practice boarding buses and trains with vehicles that are not in active service. Information and support for professionals who provide travel training. Assistance choosing the right mode of transportation for each trip. Individual trip planning to find the best way to reach a destination. If you or someone you know could benefit from travel training please contact RideWise. Call: 503.226.0700 TTY: 503.528.1730 Email: ridewise@rideconnection.org Referral Form
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Ride Connection, by Julie Wilcke

PURPOSEFUL MOVEMENT. From the moment we are born, we strive to direct our own movement in order to fulfill our needs. We begin with ordinary opportunities that allow us to investigate our environment. As we grow, our world expands until we are fully included in our community. The RideWise program provides those ordinary opportunities to explore an inclusive environment by giving whatever support and accommodations might be needed to ride TriMet buses and MAX. I thank TriMet for their support and encouragement in making the RideWise dream a reality. TriMet has been a strong supporter of Ride Connection since its inception in 1988. This unique partnership between a public and private entity has multiplied the opportunities and services for citizens of our region. The commitment of many along the way has made this possible. Thank you all for your support. I am humbled to have been allowed a glimpse into the lives of the RideWise participants. Reading these stories and looking at these incredible photographs I see purposeful movement to the tenth degree. I see individuals with full, active, ordinary lives. Thank you for sharing your stories. My thanks as well to the RideWise team-an extraordinary group who always looks at a person's true abilities, not their label. I value the strengths that each of you bring to our team. You allow all members of our community to be active members-spontaneous, independent, and free to do what we want, when we want to do it. After all, that's what RideWise is all about-the basic human right of freedom.
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TriMet, by Claire Potter

EACH STORY in The Rider's Voice is a testimony to the role transportation plays in a full, productive, and independent life. RideWise was established in 2003 and has helped hundreds of people, both the elderly and disabled, to become independent travelers. RideWise creates hands-on experiences, tailored to each individual, to help them learn how to take the TriMet Bus and MAX safely. RideWise graduates are able to earn a living, further their education, pursue their interests, and visit friends and family on their own. I hope the release of The Rider's Voice brings word of this wonderful program to many more elderly riders, people with disabilities, and their families. The creation of RideWise was led by Julie Wilcke of Ride Connection, a small, private non-profit organization that supports door-to-door transportation for the elderly and disabled throughout the Portland region. Since 1988, TriMet has been one of the primary funders of Ride Connection's services. From the beginning, RideWise has been a community aff air. In addition to Ride Connection's travel trainers, there are now 118 public school transitional teachers in multiple school districts who use RideWise methods with their students. I am grateful for their hard work and dedication. I am also grateful for the encouragement and ideas from so many individuals throughout the region who have made RideWise the fine program it is today. back to program menu | back to top

Christopher Anderson

CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON is one of the leaders of the new generation of documentary photography. For the past ten years, his work has been regularly featured in magazines around the world such as Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, V magazine, and National Geographic. His pictures have been given some of photography's highest honors including the Robert Capa Gold Medal and the Visa d'Or. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and was twice named Magazine Photographer of the Year. More recently, Christopher has been involved with pioneering multi-media and interactive, photographic essays for MagnumInMotion. Christopher is the author of one monograph, Nonfiction (DeMo 2003), and the co-author of two other titles WAR (Demo 2003) and Rethink (DeMo 2002). His forthcoming monograph, CAPITOLIO, will be published in August 2009 by Editorial RM. He joined the VII agency in 2002 and then joined Magnum Photos in 2005. He is based in New York. back to program menu | back to top

Riders

Daniel
Sue Ann
Sebastian
Kaaren
Pat
Bert & Doris
Briana
Duane
Linda
Patrick
Jonathan
Tina
Lynn
Jeffery
Carol & Lolly
Nathan
Liz
Jameson
Annabelle
Brendan

Daniel

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MY PAPA WANTED to make sure I was safe on the bus and knew where I was going. You can't go wrong with RideWise. It taught me to be safe. I don't get nervous; just ride smart and always keep your eyes open and observe the area. You never know until you try. Trying is a good thing-you may learn something new. It may be exciting. It would help you know all the buses, and have more knowledge about it, you know? I like the bus. Even though I may say I hate it once in a while-I love it. It's fun. Got my best friend in St. Johns. I go see him, like, every other day. I just like to have fun. If you catch the bus it's just right. Papa always knows where I am. You just go by yourself and go somewhere. With that comes great responsibility. Think twice-take the bus. You're making the right decision. back to riders menu | back to top

Sue Ann

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I WAS a little bit nervous, but now it doesn't bother me. RideWise has really helped me learn to be a little more independent with buses. My good friend Kaaren kept telling me, "This is going to be your life, you might as well get used to it, honey." If you are nervous, then you need to just focus on what you're supposed to be doing, especially if you're living on your own. That's a good way to not be nervous. RideWiseÉwell, it's really helped me. I'm not so nervous anymore. I just pretty much get up and get going. It's time to move-do whatever I want. Everything's gonna be just fine. back to riders menu | back to top

Sebastian

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IF YOU WANT someone to travel train you, I recommend RideWise. I learned how to travel and go places by myself. It felt pretty good. RideWise would come and travel train me. It wasn't scary. It was pretty cool. I would show the bus driver the monthly pass, and then I would tell the driver where I was going. Then, whenever he or she would announce my stop, I'd ring the bell and let them know, "Hey, I want to get off." Then they'd lower the ramp for me, and I'd go down. The drivers were always friendly. I go to work on TriMet. I'm a greeter at work and I stamp people's hands. I'm a laid back dude. back to riders menu | back to top

Kaaren

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I RECOMMEND everybody take TriMet, young or old or middle-aged, sixty or seventy. Ride TriMet because it will make you confident out in the big world. I really like it, and the drivers are so nice. I mean, you ask somebody and they help you. The bus has benefited my life because it's convenient. It takes me where I want to go. I go swimming, shopping, to movies, and to work. I like to do all that kind of stuff and be independent and adventurous. Don't hold back. Go for the gold. If you need help, call RideWise and they will hook you up. Try not to be afraid. You get used to it. Just relax, sit back, enjoy the ride and enjoy the scenery. Sometimes I sit up a little closer to the driver so I can see my stop and my landmarks. You don't want to get off at the wrong stop or you might have to walk more. I think a cell phone is a good thing to carry. But am I afraid? No. I just love it. Isn't that cool? back to riders menu | back to top

Pat

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IT'S ACTUALLY NICE to be able to get out once in a while. I'm bussing it. With the exception of a couple days, I'm usually out and about on the bus. As I got familiar with it, able to find certain locations that I haven't been familiar withÉit's been good. I'm with a performing arts group for people with disabilities. It was '84 when I first started. The group is PHAME-Pacific Handicapped Actors, Musicians, and Entertainers. There are people that have used RideWise that are in our group. We're regular people. A lot of people look at us and say, "These people have to have things done for them." No they don't. People with disabilities can do these things. They may have to have repetition, but people with disabilities can do things as long as they have the tools. A trainer for RideWise could do it as far as training them to go from point A to point B-wherever they're wanting to go. Just getting out gets us to expand on what we can do. Ain't that the truth? back to riders menu | back to top

Bert & Doris

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Bert: It's really great to have the convenience of the bus services. It's helped us a lot to be tremendously independent. It's just unbelievable; I'm so glad we've got it. I really am. With RideWise it's all just flat-out plusses for anybody that has the desire to do it. I recommend that everybody get acquainted with the buses. Doris: It's just so nice to be able to move. TriMet is very, very handy for getting to appointments at a certain time. I suggest that people sit next to the driver. That's the best spot. A lot of the drivers of the streetcars, the MAX, and the buses won't start until the elderly have had a chance to sit down. They are very cognizant of the elderly and are very helpful. Bert: There's a lot of concern for older people. Dealing with the public is a fantastic challenge and the drivers do everything they can to help. It's great. Doris: We've got some very nice bus drivers. back to riders menu | back to top

Briana

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I LEARNED THE BUS ROUTE to go from home to work, and to cheerleading, Special Olympics, jazz dance class, tutoring, and ceramics. I'm a busy young adult. My trainer is fun to work with. I learned to sit up front near the driver where I can hear the stops. I don't like going to the back. I just started riding the bus, but it's easy. If I need a ride, I can be more independent. It's great. back to riders menu | back to top

Duane

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SINCE I MOVED into this apartment, I've wanted to know my way around. I wanted to get the lay of the land, so to speak. My brother had heard about the RideWise program. That's how it all began. I wanted to try it, but I was kind of leery about it. But I've learned to tackle things and do a lot of the things that would benefit me. My travel trainer made it pretty simple, and fun too. She made sure that I knew what train or bus to get on, when to come back, and where to find the times on the route guide. It was great. The tips were really helpful. I got it down really well. RideWise has benefited me a lot. To all those that feel leery about it, don't be. Try it. You'll like it. You'll definitely like it. It gave me more self confidence. I feel great because it gave me independence, as well as the freedom to enjoy myself and go to new places and see different things. To me, that's what independence is-having the freedom to do what I want to do. Riding TriMet can be a little hairy. Like if you're not really familiar with the area it can be a little bit tough. But after a while it gets easy. Just be patient and go with a trainer. Be patient and just work at it. The more times you work at something, the better it's gonna get. Oh, and have fun doing it. The best thing to do is to pace yourself. It's less stressful. It'll help in the long run. I think that RideWise is the best thing for people. It helps you to go to the places you want to go. back to riders menu | back to top

Linda

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WHEN I WAS TALKING to my therapist about the bus, I said, "No way. There's no way I'm gonna take a bus." It was the RideWise program that got me going. It just made all the difference in the world to have somebody show me and ride with me. It was a good experience. I went to downtown Portland by myself. I went to the art store down there. I've been down to the bird shop in Beaverton three or four times, I've been going to the libraryÉI take the bus almost everywhere. Art and canaries, that's for me. Now I'm in the Canary Club. I've taken my canaries on the bus without anybody going with me or anything like that. I put a towel over the cage and they get the little radio. The canaries love the jazz. I couldn't have started if it wasn't for RideWise. It's a wonderful program. I feel empowered. I can go anywhere, do anything I want, be independentÉit was a godsend. back to riders menu | back to top

Patrick

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FREEDOM-how to get around-it makes you feel independent and it gives you the ability to do all the stuff you wanted to do. I've always wanted to get around without my mom driving me all the time, and I don't see myself getting a learner's permit any time soon, so there has to be the bus and TriMet. I was raring to go, but I was nervous. There are so many different buses. You have to keep track of them all. It was hard. You have to travel with no one helping you-all on your own. You're either going to end up lost or on track. Then it started getting easier. I was becoming independent. Just listen to your trainer, and everything will go smoothly from there. Everything's a lot easier. I also know how to take the MAX to work. I try not to get distracted and I always take my wallet, my keys, and my cell phone. That's my strategy. When you're trying to ride the bus it feels like you're blind, but when you learn how, you can see the light. back to riders menu | back to top

Jonathan

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I WANTED TO LEARN to take the bus and I feel that I'm old enough to do it by myself, independently. It's fun to ride, to meet new people and it's always nice to get out of the house-the fresh air. I love it. I ride the bus to go bowling because I was in the Special Olympics. It's all for fun. My favorite score to get is 200. When I first tried, riding was scary because you're by yourself. RideWise was very exciting because it taught me how to take the bus, how to sit in the front seat, and show my transfer to the bus driver. All the bus drivers are really, really nice. I feel safe on the bus. If you want to get on the bus, make sure that you are prepared. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it pours. You've just got to watch the weather, and just get out and about-just do it. Don't be afraid of the rain. back to riders menu | back to top

Tina

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I'd been working with RideWise, all had gone well
It was just one MAX stop that was making me ill
That last stop, just before the tunnel
It was my turmoil, my hell.

We set up a date for my great ordeal
We met up at Sunset to wait for the train
Five minutes underground, a very big deal
Which caused my mind incredible strain.

Then came the swishing sound and the big bright light
Remember to breathe, it will be all right
My heart pounded, my RideWise trainer at my side
Reassured me I was ready, it would be all right.

Step on, step off, step on, step off
I reached for the door, becoming unseated
My ears flooded with the sound of my pounding heart
The next thing I knew, I had retreated.

I let go, I walked in and made myself sit down
Ever so slowly we pulled away
It felt like a trip with no return
Would I get through the tunnel that day?

Someone told me it took five minutes
So I took out my phone to time it
Then I saw the dark engulf the train
I couldn't think, I could only panic.

I started my watch to track the time
To keep me calm, to occupy my mind
My trainer kept asking me various questions
Then the MAX slowed down to a stop on the line.

Who should get on but 15 little Indians
Screaming and chiding as children do
If only they knew what I had been through
We had arrived, it was the zoo.

Finally, light. Air. Life.
With my trainer, I had been ok
I asked if we needed to get off
Only a few more minutes, I chose to stay.

The five minute ride, I had made it through
I was shaking hard and felt like crying
My head was spinning so much
It felt as if it wasn't mine.

What I had just done was a very big deal
When my head felt better, we crossed the tracks
On the way over, I picked a daffodil
I just wanted to get back, we caught the next MAX.

Right back into the tunnel
The darkness engulfed us once again
My panic and fear replaced
I felt calmness and confidence in my brain.

With a smile on my face, and happiness in my heart
I felt joy that RideWise helped me in a tough spot
They walked me through it and gave me confidence
RideWise has helped me a lot.

I've lived in the area since 1988
My limited travel I did despise
Not knowing the bus or MAX was hard
Now I have new freedom, thank you RideWise.
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Lynn

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IT WAS REALLY HARD for me to go out and about. I have some issues, some anxiety and cognitive stuff that stops me every once in a while. At first, I wasn't real ready to ride the bus-or at least that's what I thought. I just had to get used to it. The first time I rode TriMet I just thought, "I can't do this." I was ready to get off the bus. I said, "Why don't you just let me off ? I'm going to walk." That was scary, but the RideWise travel trainer was wonderful with me. She gave me just the right amount of help when I needed it. I'm grateful for that. It was pretty remarkable. After that, I just wanted to try it again. Next day I said, "Yeah, I'm in." The next time it was a little bit better, and the time after that it was better still. You got to do it every day. Now I am able to do what I want to do. I always wanted to get out there in the world and not be scared. back to riders menu | back to top

Jeffery

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I'M STUDYING FINANCE, business, accounting-that general field. With rising prices these days, a monthly bus pass is cheaper than a week's worth of gas. Gas is a natural resource, and it can't last forever. People will eventually convert to using a different source. All cars should convert to using water instead of gasoline. It's pretty much an unlimited resource. Like, seventy percent of the world is made out of water. If you used water instead of gasoline, you'd be blowing off steam instead of blowing off smoke. I'm a big science fiction kinda guy. I've written two books. It's gonna be a series. I always think about what the future's gonna look like-how mankind is gonna improve themselves. I think TriMet is a really good option to take. As soon as I did it for a while, I was completely used to it. I rely on the bus more than on my mom taking me back and forth. I ride it frequently. I ride it to work. I ride it to school. Of course, as the saying goes, "No risk, no reward." It was kind of a risk that I use TriMet because I wasn't used to the system, but it's really paying off now, both in the sense that it gets me to school, and in the economic sense, considering that I don't have to pay for gas. RideWise helped me get used to the bus system; how it works and what to do when I get on, what to do when I get off and how to ride it, where to stop, how to stop. They do a good job. After getting a little training, you're pretty much used to it and you can go your own way from point A to point B. It's simple. Once you learn, you'll be taking the buses frequently. Independent travel is beneficial. It really is. You travel your own way, your own route, anytime, because you're your own person. back to riders menu | back to top

Carol & Lolly

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Carol: I go out a lot, pretty near every day, to different places. Lolly: She likes to take a lot of pictures. Carol: I take lots of pictures of the trips that we go on. Then I put 'em in a folder for people to look at. Lolly: I was with you a couple of times. Carol: I just thought, "Well, I'll just start riding the buses." And that seems to work out okay. I like it. I seem to do pretty well with buses, and you know, I make sure I get on the right one. I pretty much got it all planned and everything. Lolly: I thought she was really good about figuring out the buses and the times. If I'd been by myself I wouldn't know what to do, but she pretty much had everything figured out. Carol: When I go places I'm pretty independent. You know, sometimes I kind of want to get away from here, go other places and do things. Lolly: I usually go with her. Well, she's my little sister. We're not blood sisters; we adopted each other. Carol: I'm your tagalong. Lolly: That's exactly what she is. Carol: We've become attached to each other. Lolly and I go places. I love it. The buses are nothing to be scared about. Just give RideWise a call and take it from there. Just give it a try. I sit up close to the front so I can get a good view and because it is easier to get in and out. With the bus and train I don't have to stay here, sitting around and doing nothing. I'm able to get out and do things. I'm really glad of that. Lolly: Carol helps me. She tells me where to get off and when to get on. I just say, "Please put the ramp down," because I have a walker, then I hop on. We just wanted to get out and about and now we can on the bus. Try it. Everybody is so nice. back to riders menu | back to top

Nathan

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I DIDN'T REALLY KNOW how to get around, so we figured on calling up RideWise. It wasn't really my idea, it was my mom's. But I'm really glad I did it. I had never ridden the bus 'cause-well, I was nervous. Plus, my mom didn't feel comfortable with it. With RideWise, I had someone to back me up. It just really helps to have someone behind you. I was pretty nervous-thinking, "should I do this, should I not do this?" At first it's scary, but then it gets easier. It feels pretty good. Parents, don't be afraid to let go, it's got to happen. Someday your kids are going to go. Count your blessings. It's part of transferring from youth to adult. Now I go by myself and feel comfortable on TriMet. I get up at about 5:00 a.m., and I get on the MAX at about 6:00 a.m. to get to work. It takes forty minutes, and that's including the transfer. I like riding TriMet because now I can try more stuff. I feel more independent, with more self-esteem. I am able to go wherever I want to go. It is very convenient. back to riders menu | back to top

Liz

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THERE ARE REGULAR DRIVERS and regular riders that I've gotten to know. When you're blind and you have a cane, nobody talks to you. When you're blind and you have a dog, nobody shuts up. If somebody's giving me grief about the dog, or me, or if they don't see that I have a dog because she blends into the floor, and they want me to move out of the disabled seating or whatever, I yell to the driver. The driver takes care of it. I feel safer near the front with the driver. This is the safe way to go. I can't read any of the signs or hear the announcements, so it's hard. I ask people to help me and I try to count stops. I'm finding the bus faster and easier to do different things. It just widens all the options. I can say, "Now I'm going somewhere. I'm in the mood. I'm going to go to X place." And I'm out! That's independence. It means I decide I'm going somewhere, and I go somewhere. It means I'm running the show, and I'm deciding which route. I do this every day. I wish more people would take advantage of the bus. I was scared starting. I didn't know whether I'd be able to fi gure out the stops, or how they were announced, or where they were announced, or whatever. I know for other people it's even scarier. It's terrifying. But once you get it, you don't go back. Once you start getting out of the house, you don't sit there anymore. And so just making that first contact really makes it worth it. Having the training just brings on the self confidence and makes a big difference. back to riders menu | back to top

Jameson

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I'M JAMESON and I'm a good person. I ride TriMet every day. Like to the library, the movies, and Wal-Mart. I'm pretty much independent. I know the routes. Learning the landmarks-that was pretty much the key. I learned it pretty fast. Done deal. I do like the program. It's good to the public. You get to learn more things and you get to ride with different people. It means you get to do more things in the future. It's all better. More freedom. What'd I do without it? back to riders menu | back to top

Annabelle

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MY WALKER is the biggest hindrance. It's something I can hang onto if I fall, but on the other hand the roads are rough and the sidewalks aren't even. It doesn't take much to lose my balance. I was bound and determined to get out. I found if I could travel independently I could come and go as I pleased. I wouldn't have to depend on anyone. TriMet and the bus would make that easier. When I want to go, I want to go. I can go shopping, I can go to the beauty shop, and I can go have a cup of coff ee when I want. I feel competent to go by myself. It's great on the bus. RideWise has been great. I'm going to catch a bus every day. I'd like to know the whole city of Portland. I just can't wait to get going. back to riders menu | back to top

Brendan

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RIDEWISE HELPED ME get around Portland-where to get on buses, how to get the right stop. It helped me meet new people. RideWise trained me, and then stepped back and let me do it by myself. I worked on it. If I was afraid, the bus drivers are really nice and help people who don't know where they need to go. I take the 19 Glisan to get to the streetcar. Then I take the tram to get to my doctor. The first time I was nervous. Now I got over it and I love taking the tram. It's a lot of fun. The best time to connect to RideWise is right after high school. It will help you learn more about TriMet and the MAX. RideWise will help you to get around new places you haven't been. My mom and my brothers, they are proud of me for getting around on buses. Keep on working on it and you will get it. back to riders menu | back to top

Advocates

Chris, Travel Trainer
Scott, Vocational Transition Specialist
Wilhelm, Ride Ambassador
Mitzi, Personal Agent
Peter, Special Education Teacher (retired)

Chris, Travel Trainer

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I'VE BEEN WITH RIDEWISE since the program first started. I was the first trainer hired. The program has grown immensely. Individually, every rider is a different story and requires a different training method, but the goal is always the same. The goal is to have our riders traveling independently. A lot of the people I train are scared to death to ride the bus. I show them it's not as daunting as it seems. Now they are riding daily and are involved in the community and doing all types of stuff. It's just fun to see people get out. Self-esteem goes from almost none to through the roof. Learning to get around on the bus aff ects every aspect of my trainees' lives. In the cases of the younger trainees, it aff ects the confidence that their parents feel. The trust between the parent, or guardian, and the rider becomes greater, and their confidence in each other becomes greater, because the rider has actually gained a step in their life toward independence. Having the parents feel proud of them, and excited for them, is just a great feeling for everybody. back to advocates menu | back to top

Scott, Vocational Transition Specialist

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I WORK with high school through twenty-one-year-old students in the vocational transition department as a specialist. My students tend to want to get out of the house as much as possible. Most of them don't have transportation and they need lots of help getting around town. That's why we use RideWise. The program is a godsend. I've got several parents that are real leery as far as what part of town they wanna send their student into, or if they want their child to go on the bus at all. So, it's just a matter of reiterating the need and getting more than me, the teacher, but getting the whole team to say, "This would be best for Johnny right now-to get him out. Try the bus." We send them to RideWise and make sure that they are always training with an adult. I have to convince parents that there's a good support system out there and that we can help. RideWise does a great job. RideWise trains very well. They encourage students to have cell phones if they can. They also teach them to watch for landmarks, notice where they got on, and to look at the bus name. If they're the kind of student that can't remember these things, then we give them a little book so they can write it down, or we can help them write it down. We also go over general stranger awareness as well. Our students can be anywhere from mildly learning disabled all the way up to medically fragile students who need nursing in wheelchairs, so, I mean, there's a broad spectrum of students that we work with. Regardless of where they are on that spectrum, the number one priority is finding more independence for them. Thanks to RideWise, we can direct them to more independent travel, and show them that they have a lot more options. back to advocates menu | back to top

Wilhelm, Ride Ambassador

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I GREW UP IN VIENNA and I lived there until I was close to twenty years old, I always enjoyed taking the transportation system over there. It was a very convenient way of traveling, and I could see that here, with the Portland transportation system, as well. I ran into a lot of people who really didn't know how to take advantage of the TriMet system, so I figured that was something that I could help with and I could do. That's how RideWise and I got started. Must be about two years by now. Things just took off from the very beginning. At first I would go around trying to drum up some interest, going to retirement homes and so forth. In time I organized a little group that started traveling in the local retirement area. Pretty soon I had a group of five, then eight, then twelve. We went down to the Saturday Market one time, and there were twenty-six people or so in my group! When it's a large group I wear a red hat or something that's visible from afar so that everyone can keep an eye on me. I have a good time because, when we get back and everybody comes by and shakes my hand and says, "Thank you," and "I've had a really good day," that pays me for being a volunteer, you know? back to advocates menu | back to top

Mitzi, Personal Agent

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I WORK for Inclusion, one of several local support service brokerages. We help adults with developmental disabilities connect with resources and services that they need to live their lives how they want to. I've worked with RideWise since I've been at Inclusion. I was really interested in it because I did travel training in California and it just sounded like such a fantastic program and resource. I love RideWise. I tell them that all the time. I always tell them it's just such a fantastic program because it's a free resource, number one, and besides, they're the experts at travel training. It really makes a diff erence when I am presenting to a customer, or to a customer's family, and they're thinking about riding the bus for the first time. For a lot of customers, that's a very scary notion. For families it's even scarier because their family members are going to be out there on their own and with a lot of potential for making the wrong decisions, or being caught up in different situations. I send these folks right over to RideWise and I know they will be taken care of. back to advocates menu | back to top

Peter, Special Education Teacher (retired)

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I'M A RETIRED special education teacher-retired for three years. I taught academics and life skills to mostly junior high school kids. Part of the life skills training involved teaching them how to use public transportation. Being disabled myself, I had to learn how to adapt and cope. One of the most powerful learning experiences that I ever had was going on a public bus for the first time by myself after about a month of training. That experience just changed my life totally. It opened up a whole world to me; a world of independence. For the first time in my life, I felt a power that I could control my life rather than having to depend on other people to control it. I have always felt that it's important for my students to understand that they have the ability and the strength and the power to take over their lives as well. When our students learned to use public transportation we would see a greater openness to trying something new, to experiencing new things. We saw greater confidence in the students, and just a feeling that, "Hey, I can do these things," and that was wonderful. back to advocates menu | back to top


Photographs © 2008 Christopher Anderson, All other content © 2008 TriMet, Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon