Surrey Leader – HandyDart service not keeping up to demand: Critics
Article by Jeff Nagel
Published May 2nd, 2012
Rising demand for HandyDart rides from the elderly and disabled who can’t easily take regular buses is outstripping TransLink’s ability to deliver the custom transit service, advocates warn.
“There are always more and more people needing to use the HandyDart,” said Jane Dyson, executive director of the B.C. Coalition for People with Disabilities.
But service levels are frozen at about 600,000 annual service hours – likely until 2015 – and TransLink is simultaneously under pressure to carve savings out of the program after an efficiency review.
The result: more passengers being denied rides or offered a one-way trip only but no guarantee of a return trip.
“They may be able to get a ride from Richmond to Vancouver but when they want to get back it’s very difficult,” Dyson said. “A ride one way is pretty useless if you can’t get back.”
She’s heard complaints from passengers who say up to half of their trip requests are denied because the system is over-subscribed, and that trips are getting longer as dispatchers organize trips to pick up more passengers than before.
“For people who have health conditions like bladder issues, or bowel issues or breathing issues, that can be very challenging,” Dyson said, adding it is undercutting the reliability and usability of the system.
“We have to remember this is a service for people with disabilities and seniors. There needs to be some understanding of that built into a budget system.”
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