Centre advocates for enhanced HandyDART serviceNovember 4, 2011 by Deb Bartlett
Meeting to discuss plan set for December
Hoping their advocacy will help enhance service, representatives of the BC Centre for Ability (BCCFA) addressed Vancouver’s standing committee on transportation and traffic about a three-year plan that has no increases to the HandyDART service, which transports people who have a disability.
Six individuals from the Centre, including a self-advocate and two parents, attended the session.
Paula Anderson, Director of Community Living for the BCCFA’s Daily Endeavours program, addressed the committee.
She says the plan as it was presented by Translink, Metro Vancouver’s regional transportation authority, means medically fragile people would be sitting even longer on the HandyDART.
Paula said no increase to the service, coupled with a growing number of users, would mean fewer rides and longer waits.
The BCCFA and the Developmental Disabilities Association (DDA) were the only two agencies at the recent committee meeting representing adults who have a disability, and were concerned about “getting lost” amongst the seniors’ groups that are also advocating, Paula says.
The BCCFA and DDA requested a meeting with Translink, which will take place in December.
Paula is happy to advocate for any user of the HandyDART service that would like their comments shared at the December meeting. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Paula says the BCCFA prefers that people in their programs use buses, but there are only so many spaces for strollers, wheelchairs and walkers on the vehicles. If those spots are taken, people in wheelchairs must wait outside until a bus with spaces comes by.
She says 18 of 29 Daily Endeavours participants use the HandyDART daily, for multiple trips a day.
HandyDART is generally the least favoured mode of public transit, Paula says. “We’re community-based and about community inclusion and when you have people sitting on HandyDARTs for up to one-and-a-half hours, that is very isolating and it’s not very inclusive.”
Paula notes that HandyDART is used by people who have no other options.
“People don’t take HandyDART for convenience or efficiency. They take it because they have to, and usually it’s for a medical reason,” she says.
“The more we can get people on public transport and out of the HandyDART is actually better for our program because it spreads the word of community inclusion,” Paula says.
To comment on this story, or to share your group or family’s lobbying initiatives, contact Deb at 800-294-0051 ext. 30, or e-mail deb(at)axiomnews.ca.