HandyDART users and their loved ones will finally get some recognition for their complaints about sub-standard service.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is it took 18 months and the filing of a Human Rights discrimination complaint against TransLink to get some resolution.
In 2017, the HandDART Riders’ Alliance filed a class action complaint alleging that people with physical and cognitive disabilities are provided with inferior transit service. At the time, they felt that people with disabilities, including the frail elderly, were effectively being denied access to transit because the service was so bad.
Even TransLink’s own statistics in 2017 and 2018 suggested there was an increase in complaints about issues such as HandyDART no shows or wait times longer than promised.
It’s too bad it had to come to this. Anyone who knows someone who has had to rely on HandyDART to get to an appointment has heard a horror story of a wait time much longer than the standard 30 minutes promised by TransLink.
Why should people with disabilities get service of a much lesser standard than everyone else?
That was the crux of the Human Rights complaint that has been set aside.
Now, as part of the settlement agreement, TransLink has agreed to produce an annual service performance report, provide funding for research on the experience of HandDART customers, and create a HandyDART users group.
Finally, HandDART users will be recognized.
Since the settlement, TransLink’s board has voted to establish a standing public HandYDART advisory committee, which will hopefully lead to a constructive relationship between users and the transportation authority.
TransLink is also in the midst of increasing service hours by 15%.
HandyDART also has a new operator, First Canada, which replaced MVT Canadian Bus Inc., last year and while it’s a bit unnerving for these important services to be contracted to a company with the lowest bid, we can only hope that increased service and ongoing performance reviews will ensure a more seamless trip delivery service for users.
For compassion’s sake, as well as the necessity to preserve the dignity of HandDART users we hope that many of the issues experienced in recent years will be handled with tact, diplomacy and efficiency for now and in the future.