Disabled Columbus woman gets lift with new METRA changes

Jessica Cowell is excited because she believes positive changes in transit are on the horizon.

A disabled Columbus woman got a lift after a visit from the mayor. October marks Disability Employment Awareness Month, and more than one-third of the 1.1 million transit rides every year in Columbus have at least one disabled person aboard.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson announced Wednesday that city council recently approved new funding that will upgrade the Metra transit system. She says commuters can expect better routes, as well as expanded Dial-a-Ride program, which allowed people to have door-to-door car service.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson breaks down some of the new changes soon to come to the METRA transit system.
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson breaks down some of the new changes soon to come to the METRA transit system.

“We have many citizens willing to work,” the mayor said. “We need of course, to make sure that they can actually get to those jobs. And it’s our responsibility as city leaders to make sure we have the best public transit system.”

Tomlinson says the $22 million that will go towards funding the Metra improvements came from the T-SPLOST.

One of the commuters who stands to benefit from the impending new Metra changes is Jessica Cowell. Cowell got to speak to the mayor one-on-one on a Metra bus to better understand the mayor’s intentions and detail what she goes through on a daily basis. Cowell has a cerebral palsy, scoliosis and diabetes. Despite her disabilities, however, she works nearly 30 hours a week at the Disability Service Center on 10th St.

$22 million will go towards enhancing METRA service.
$22 million will go towards enhancing METRA service.

“It’s the most important thing to me to be able to help others with disabilities because I’m lucky,” Cowell said. “I can walk, I can speak. I can speak for myself. And I feel like because so many other people don’t have the voice, the ability…it’s my responsibility to be their voice as well.”

Cowell says she’ll enjoy a little extra sleep and more time with her dog with the time she’ll save on transit in the future.

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