Wal-Mart of Cookeville is still not allowing the Cookeville Area Transit System buses onto their property. The closest CATS bus stop is across East Veterans Drive, directly adjacent to the shopping center’s property. Passengers of the bus are dropped off and have to cross the busy three-lane street in order to go shopping in the center. This can be hazardous for anybody, regardless of physical condition. John Quest, basic business major, has a tremendous ordeal with this because he’s blind.
“I take it personally,” Quest said. “It’s as if they[Wal-Mart] don’t care if someone lives or dies on the way to their store.
“I’m working with lawyers to help support the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency’s ongoing case against the property owners.
“Trying to cross the street there is a huge challenge and extremely dangerous,” Quest continued. “Finding a reference point is almost impossible,” in regards to the use of his cane for walking assistance.
“Neither Knoxville nor Clarksville bus systems have this problem,” Quest said. “They can pull up five feet from the door.”
Employees from both Knoxville and Clarksville public transportation divisions commented on bus access to Wal-Mart stores in the two cities.
Don Laws, nighttime dispatcher for the Clarksville Transit Center, said, “There’s a shelter station on the left hand side of the store. It is on the property.”
Knoxville Transit employee, Kay Molden said, “Not up to the door, but just before it. We don’t pull up that close because of the fire lanes.”
An employee of Wal-Mart also commented.
Eva Harrison, floor manager of a Knoxville Wal-Mart, said, “They [the buses] pull up right to the sidewalk,” outside of the store.
John Quest is left confused concerning Wal-Mart of Cookeville’s approach to the issue.
“It’s like they are setting up smokescreens,” Quest said. “I just don’t understand why.”
According to Quest, “Wal-Mart of Cookeville is in direct violation of the American Disabilities Act of 1990.”
Title III of the ADA states, “Public accommodations must:
Provide goods and services in an integrated setting, unless separate or different measures are necessary to ensure equal opportunity.
Make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures that deny equal access to individuals with disabilities, unless a fundamental alteration would result in the nature of the goods and services provided.”
Quest added, “I’ve been riding the Knoxville buses since 1989, and Cookeville’s new system still has a long way to go.”
The discrepancy is ongoing.
For more information concerning the ADA, visit www.ada.gov. For more information about the CATS bus, visit www.uchra.com/cats.