Disabled community members affected by GET strike

The Golden Empire Transit bus strike is causing a ripple effect for many in the disabled community.

New Advances for People with Disabilities and BARC have been hit hard by the strike.

Many of their clients depend on buses, not only to get to and from work, but also just to get around town daily.

"If you have a disability and your freedom depends on being at that bus stop waiting for that GET bus to pick you up, it's critically important," said Jim Baldwin, president of BARC.

BARC has 33 clients who are solely dependent on public transportation to get to and from their jobs at the organization.

"Our clients depend on that bus every day. Now their lives are upside down. We are scrambling very quickly to figure out how to get them to programming and their jobs," said Baldwin.

BARC officials began working on a contingency plan last week after news of the strike was eminent. The plan included facilitating staff picking up clients.

"Transportation is no small issue. GET has a big job. This strike is devastating to our community," said Baldwin.

NAPD has a fleet of buses they use for transportation for the majority of their clients. However, they also been planed ahead for the strike, because they have a significant number of clients who depend on bus service. Administrators say mobility is extremely important for people with disabilities.

"This is their only chance with mobility. It is important for their livelihood. With this shutdown they have no way to get around and no freedom. They're pretty much locked in their houses," said Shawn Kennemer, NAPD.

Additionally, organizations like Goodwill industries have a significant amount of employees that rely upon public transportation.

"23% of our workforce in Greater Bakersfield absolutely depend the buses to get to and from work" Sheryl Chalupa president and CEO Goodwill.

For all of these organizations, they say, it's a wait and see as to how long the strike will last.

"If it's just a couple of days, I think we'll weather it well. But if it drags on, I think it could be a significant hardship financially to our employees and it could present some challenges in our stores," said Chalupa.

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