In Accessible Travel, SCI BC News

This past month, Translink made a substantial financial pledge to accessible transit.
It’s a promising move forward. But is it too little too late? And is it even enough?

In an effort to cut down on a troubling increase in trip denials, Metro Vancouver’s regional transportation authority, Translink, will add $1 million to the accessible HandyDART transit system in 2014.

handydart2The HandyDART community shuttles that pick up and drop off seniors and people with disabilities turned down nearly 40,000 rides last year, leaving an average 100 users per day homebound or stranded, and scrambling for other options. The announced boost in funding, and transfer of several under-used routes to contracted taxis, will cut down service denials by three quarters, providing 30,000 additional trips.

Yet for many HandyDART riders who receive the specialized door-to-door service at public transit rates, the increased capacity is still not enough. Despite TransLink’s million dollar commitment, people with limited mobility will be denied 10,000 rides in the coming year.

Rates of refusal—up from 4,900 times in 2008 and 13,400 times in 2010, to 37,700 times in 2012—reflect the aging population and drastic increase in demand, coupled with system inefficiencies: Passenger absenteeism or last minute cancellations were responsible for more than half of lost seats in the last year alone. The nearly 40,000 refused rides account for 3 percent of a total 1.2 million HandyDART trips in 2012.

Translink’s pledge to HandyDART—and the first funding increase in three years—will come from last year’s nearly $36.8 million operating surplus. The extra funds, and deeper acknowledgment of a deficient accessible transit system, are essential to getting people with limited mobility to medical appointments, work engagements, social gatherings, and any other destination.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Is the HandyDART system not quite what it should be? Is TransLink on the right track? Join the conversation in the comment section below.

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