The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is telling stories throughout the year from residents with disabilities about their experiences with transportation in the region. CMAP is highlighting these stories as we support our partners with implementing ADA transition plans and creating a more inclusive region.
Lavelle Howell, 42, has been a dedicated transit rider for more than 25 years. As a resident of Chicago’s South Side who does not drive, Lavelle depends on the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to travel around the city — including reaching his job.
Lavelle has worked in Vocational Services at Ada S. McKinley Community Services since he was 18. This program creates jobs for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and provides training on tasks such as assembly, packaging, and warehouse storage.
In this Q&A, Lavelle shares how transit is critical to his employment and quality of life.
What is your typical commute?
My house isn’t far from the bus stop on 75th Street. I take the bus to get to the Red Line stop at 79th Street, and then take it a few stops to the 63rd Street stop. I’d say it takes about 20 minutes. The trains usually come pretty quickly. I can usually get to work on time.
What are some of your favorite things about transit?
I like riding the CTA to different places, like work or my dad’s place. I like CTA because they help a lot of people. When you get on the bus, the drivers help you. If there is a different stop that you need to take, or something isn’t working, they will tell you.
I also like when the drivers let the ramp down to let people in wheelchairs on the bus. If someone in a wheelchair gets on the bus, I get up and let the seat up, so they can get on. You have to show your respect.
Why is transit important to you?
I couldn’t get to work without it. And I like coming to work. I like coming to the center, because they help me learn different trades and show me how to do stuff. And it’s nice to make money, too.
What do you think could be improved about transit?
We need to get more elevators. There are elevators at 79th Street and 63rd Street, but not at all the stops. I use the stairs, but sometimes I see people with wheelchairs who need elevators to get on.
Do you have a favorite moment on transit?
I remember when I wanted to go to Navy Pier and I didn’t know how to get there. I asked the bus driver about where to get on, and he told me. He helped me get on the bus in the Englewood area and take it all the way to Navy Pier. I went there to eat and look around. It’s a nice place.
Photo courtesy of Ada S. McKinley Community Services