Gamblers Take Transit Service for a Ride

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Hayne Palmour IV/North County Times
    North County Transit LIFT buses like this one, which is specially equipped for handicapped passengers, take people to the casinos east of Valley Center.

    It costs at least $200 to take a taxi from San Clemente to a casino near Valley Center, but residents with disabilities make the same 100-mile gambling run on the publicly funded North County Transit District's LIFT buses for just eight bucks, according to a published report.

    The cash-poor transit district spends about $55,000 each year driving people with disabilities to and from local casinos, a service federal law requires it to provide, reported the North County Times. Such trips are a small chunk of the $4 million the district spends each year on service for the disabled, but board members are still grumbling about the backcountry gambling jaunts.

    The district's small, wheelchair-accessible LIFT buses provide an average of 67 round trips to casinos per month from points throughout the district.

    "I have a big issue with this," said county Supervisor Bill Horn, who sits on the transit board and spoke at its Oct. 22 meeting. "I don't think we should be subsidizing that trip.... It just doesn't seem right to me, I'm sorry."

    District officials said the law on the matter -- the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 -- isn't flexible, however.