As you likely know, Michele Mashburn has been the Director of the San Jose Peace and Justice Center for almost 5 years. She has been an extremely dedicated community builder, facilitating connections between various groups and providing relevant resources to anyone in need. She is also a disability advocate and activist, experiencing added struggles thanks to the pandemic. Michele is also an active Green Party Member of Santa Clara County.
Michele is a disabled person who relies on a power wheelchair for her mobility. Before the pandemic, she primarily used public transportation like busses to get anywhere outside of the Downtown San Jose area. In addition to the already limited capacity for wheelchairs on each bus, this option became too dangerous because of potential exposure to the coronavirus. The paratransit option has also been unreliable with questionable sanitation procedures and inconsistent pick up and drop off schedules. As helpful as Paratransit can be to some, it does not meet the needs of someone with a busy schedule.
In reality, accessible public transportation options are inconvenient and unreliable. Paratransit requires an advanced registration from 1 to 3 days. Same day rides are not guaranteed and are limited by where they can fit you in, so there is no set time. Each trip has a 30-minute pickup window, and the times are never guaranteed because of traffic and other unpredictable issues. Prior to the pandemic, paratransit rides could be shared with other passengers which creates even more uncertainty.
When Michele was asked to speak at a local high school, she scheduled a paratransit ride for the advised time and arrived over an hour early. Then the return vehicle was late which made her over an hour late to a work meeting.
While public transit has more predictable schedules, the commute to a medical appointment could easily fill a day. A trip that may take 45 minutes in a vehicle may take almost 90 minutes on a bus. For many areas of Santa Clara County, the frequency is less than 3 busses per hour. This becomes more complicated when transfers to another bus or the light rail are necessary. Therefore, Michele has to take into consideration enough time so that she does not miss her bus, how much time she has between transfers, extra padding time in case of traffic or other unexpected issues, and then do it all again for the return trip.
To facilitate Michele’s necessary trips for medical appointments and general needs and to allow her to meet the demands of peace and justice, we are asking for your help to raise funds to purchase a wheelchair accessible van. This will allow her the freedom of transportation that so many people take for granted. As someone with a limited income during a time of great hardship from the pandemic, relying on public transportation and paratransit services is no longer feasible.
Michele has been a pillar of community support in San Jose. This time, it is up to the community to support her.
Wheelchair accessible vehicles are expensive ($55,000+) with added expenses in equipment maintenance, insurance costs, and downtown parking. The dream is to cover most of the expenses needed to purchase the vehicle without a huge monthly payment to deal with. At a minimum, assistance with a downpayment is required to offset the other expenses and get a manageable monthly payment (at a minimum 10%, or $5,500 but 25%, or $13,750 would be ideal).
Please CLICK HERE and contribute what you can to this GoFundMe campaign to help raise funds for a wheelchair accessible van so that Michele can have a safer and more convenient option for transportation.
As of April 25, 2020, Michele and her mother have been able to save almost $3000 toward this purchase.