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Legal Story: Voices of the Locomotively-Impaired left Unanswered in New York State

Legal Story: Voices of the Locomotively-Impaired left Unanswered in New York State

Public Transportation in New York State, in particular busing, is a county wide initiative. New York State Department of Transportation services a multitude of individuals, according each respective municipality delineating the State by county lines of demarcation. The United States Federal Government puts public busing policymaking in Albany’s hands, but, the state ultimately grants the

individual county autonomy for providing service to their constituents throughout New York. The Empire State’s busing is different from unilateral systems of transportation that blur county boundary lines in favor of a statewide initiative. Ultimately, unilateral systems generally operate along greater distances since they run across the state in totality.

Unfortunately, many customers in New York, above all the disabled and disadvantaged, are put at the disposal of autonomously run systems of transport. Many residents in New York wish to enjoy the safety other states are providing their residents with including but limited to: New Jersey a unilateral system and even Pennsylvania in which buses operate regionally within the state.

Ethel Benita Hill, a Binghamton New York Resident and guest star on “County Speak”, 90.5 WHRW Radio, represents one problem faced by too many riders of Broome County Transportation System and other autonomously county run systems. Ethel suffers from Schizophrenia amongst other debilitating illnesses. On several occasions Ethel has asked me for change to ride the bus to my weekly radio program, and certainly, this will not be the last. One bus ticket in New York unfortunately, will not get Mrs. Hill too far.

Movement, Public Transportation’s semiotic locus, is an undeniable human requirement for even remaining at the subsistence level. Deputy Mayor Tarik Abdelazism, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Congressman Maurice Hinchey and a milieu of other officials working in the Southern Tier have all made promises to revamp the Broome Public Transportation on “County Speak” radio. Each politician expresses hopes to link Binghamton with other metropolitan centers like New York City or Philadelphia. Be assured officials in the Southern Tier mirror respective cities throughout New York State that suffer from autonomous county run bus systems. Binghamton transportation, as with other municipalities along New York’s periphery, cannot help their citizens get from place to place, unless they operate outside of public transportation systems.

Ethel Hill, a self proclaimed “Subsistence Level” candidate, can just about make bus fare into the city. However, moving out of Binghamton is not an option for Benita, nor is visiting family and relatives in places distant from the Tier. Mrs. Hill is limited by her illness, but, she should not be limited to services provided by her respective county of residence.

Mrs. Hill is no stranger to feeling helpless in an emergency. Unfortunately, she knows that navigating long distances in a psychiatric emergency is not an option she has in New York State. Promises are made by officials on County Speak to place fail safe measures into transportation policies but no definitive answers have been released describing the progress being made. Too many people like Benita cannot speak for themselves.

J. Peters

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association. Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia. "I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others." "In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."
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