Meet Sarah Lee, an advocate for accessible transportation. Born with low vision and on the autism spectrum, Sarah has faced unique challenges in navigating the world around her. However, she’s turned these challenges into opportunities for growth, education, and advocacy. In this interview, Sarah shares her journey, the importance of accessible transportation, and her experiences with Via Mobility Services.
“Accessible transportation services like Via’s are super freeing because I can get to where I need to go very easily, unlike with fixed route buses,” Sarah explains. “It often involved several walks and feeling unsafe with random strangers on the street. But with paratransit, I found it safer and easier to get around. That’s super important!”
Becoming an Advocate for Accessible Transportation
Sarah’s journey toward becoming an advocate for accessible transportation began with a realization that many take the ability to drive for granted. As her friends and sister started driving, Sarah felt trapped, unable to access the independence that comes with personal mobility. However, everything changed when her Orientation and Mobility specialist, Becky, introduced her to accessible transportation services.
Soon after, Sarah embarked on a Travel Training activity in 2022 with Boulder County Mobility for All (M4A), a close partner of Via and a government organization that promotes accessible, affordable, and equitable multimodal (transit, bike, etc.) transportation options for residents of all ages and abilities and to raise awareness that transportation is a basic social, economic, and health need. Sarah learned about transportation options there and met the Mobility for All Program Manager, Angel Bond, who later made her aware of an open job position with Boulder County.
“I want to be a transportation advocate and want people to enjoy the rides they have. I want people to feel free to go wherever they need to,” Sarah emphasized. “I don’t want their only barrier to be transportation, like it used to be for me.”
In her role at M4A, Sarah teaches courses on various transportation options, including technology-based companies like Lyft and Uber, as well as tools like Google Maps and the RTD MyRide app. She aims to help people navigate the often complex world of transportation.
“We emphasize Via a lot,” Sarah said. “Via’s awesome; they’re super friendly, super nice, and very accommodating, especially for people with disabilities. We want riders to have safe, accessible, and affordable transportation, no matter their age or ability. We want riders to have options, whether they’re going to something fun or a medical appointment. That’s what Via offers.”
Last year, Via helped 3,440 riders, mostly older adults and people with short- and long-term disabilities, get where they needed to go.
Via’s Mileage Reimbursement Enhances Rider’s Independence
Via’s Family and Friends Mileage Reimbursement Program has positively impacted Sarah’s life. It allows her to contribute to her mom’s gas expenses when driving her from Longmont to Fort Collins, which is a limited route in any kind of transit, reducing the financial burden on loved ones. “I can get there guilt-free because I can pay my mom back for gas,” Sarah shared. “My mom’s really grateful because she doesn’t have to stress about it.”
Sarah’s Message to Via Supporters Like You
For Sarah, mobility means more than just getting from point A to point B. It means having the freedom to explore, learn, and live life to the fullest. “To me, mobility means getting places easily and efficiently,” she shared, “And, of course, naming the buses along the way.”
Sarah is a shining example of how accessible transportation can empower individuals to lead independent and fulfilling lives. “Transportation is a staple in everyone’s lives, as our petal graph (below) shows,” she said. “We want to show that accessible transportation helps everyone with finances, doctor’s appointments, food, daycare, and more. It is essential that it is positive, safe, accessible, affordable, and reliable.”
As a donor, your contribution can change lives and be part of a solution that makes our community stronger. And donating now is more crucial than ever: For every ten people who ride with Via, one more is waiting. Your donation today is the difference between someone’s ability to access healthcare or missing their appointment stuck at home.
Sarah wants to share Boulder County Mobility for All’s petal graph (below), which shows how transportation is the great connector between the vital parts of a person’s life: Employment and income stability, food and nutrition, health and well-being, environmental health, education and skill building, safety, and housing stability. Your donation to Via Mobility Services today is a critical need in facilitating stability for thousands of individuals in our community. Thank you for being their hero.