Heat affecting public transit in Yakima

YAKIMA, Wash. -- This heat is causing some concern for people who rely on public transit. Air conditioning on some buses isn't always that effective. That could be an issue for anyone who relies on a service that caters to people with medical problems.

Holly Sutton worries about her son, Joey, who has cerebral palsy. He relies on Dial-A-Ride to get to and from disability services.

"It's dangerous, dangerous to him, dangerous to a lot of other people," said Sutton.

Sutton says Joey can suffer seizures if he's exposed to too much heat.

"It's more his father and I that are worried, very worried."

Joey uses Dial-A-Ride three times a week. However, the hot temperatures outside have Holly worried about the heat inside the vans. That concern isn't lost on Yakima's public works director.

"It's a constant battle, every vehicle during this hot spell has that issue," said Scott Schafer, director of public works.

Schafer says the issue of hot buses and vans is something the city takes seriously, especially because Dial-A-Ride primarily serves people with disabilities or health conditions.

"We're doing everything we can possible during this hot spell," he said.

Schafer says public works checked the air conditioning units inside all of the vehicles Dial-A-Ride uses. He says the tests show they work, but that doesn't make it easy to keep them cool throughout the interior.

"We're constantly opening [and] closing the doors to load and unload clients," he said. "All that cool air rushes out and you've got to start the process over again."

To prevent that, public works could consider limiting passengers to one rider at a time. Holly hopes whatever is done will be enough to make sure Joey gets where he needs to go safely.

Dial-A-Ride hopes some new minivans will alleviate any problems. The agency just got six vehicles and will use them in place of older equipment.