“A Traveler’s Notes” is a blog series written by our CEO, Daman Wandke, after each one of his trips. This blog is a short discussion of the accessibility issues he has faced while traveling and how he overcame them.
I went down to the San Francisco office of SSB BART Group, the company I work for, to attend our holiday party and work in the office with my co-workers. I am usually lucky with flights being on time, but this trip was different. After a forty five minute initial delay leaving Seattle, we were all onboard the airplane when the SFO airport issued a “ground stop delay.” We sat onboard the airplane for another forty five minutes until SFO cleared us for departure. Once we arrived I waited for everyone to get off the plane while they supposedly were bringing my wheelchair up to the airplane’s door. The wheelchair didn’t come. Instead, they took me up to the gate in a manual chair and I continued to wait. All the staff were “looking” for my power wheelchair. After a forty minute wait, I was finally on my way.
There are not many accessible cabs in the San Francisco area, but luckily I work directly with one of them. I also know which hotel meets my needs from my last trip to San Francisco. The Hotel Marker has a room with two beds and a roll-in shower. The roll-in shower does not have a built in seat but they have shower chairs upon request, including one with a back. I also ask for a conference style chair so I can sit on a chair without wheels to get dressed.
On Saturday I went over to Berkeley on the BART train to see the Ed Roberts Campus and get together with a friend from college who lives there. The rain coming down was some of the heaviest rain I’ve seen. The Ed Roberts Campus is a model for universal design and takes into the consideration the needs of various types of disabilities.
It is also built on top of a BART station. Unfortunately, while I was at lunch with my friend the power went out. After lunch, we tried to call the street elevator down to the BART station but it wasn’t working. Someone told us that there’s a ramp across the street that leads to the BART station. I thought that was a good backup plan so we went down the ramp and into the station. We were told that the trains were running but the elevator down to the platform elevator had no power. The station had back up power but not the elevator didn’t. I try calling my cab driver with no luck. We then find out that there’s a bus to the next station that has power. While waiting for the bus, the cab driver calls back and forty five minutes later we finally got picked up. We then got our luggage from my office and headed to the airport.
Our return flight was delayed ninety minutes, meaning we would miss the 9pm shuttle to Bellingham. The next shuttle is not until 11:30, arriving back in Bellingham at 2am. Typically, they can only make one shuttle accessible and that requires forty eight hours notice. We ended up convincing them to send out another accessible shuttle. Luckily I had Sunday to rest up!