Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for February 19, 2014

Handy bus policy is subject of updating

As council ponders an update to the city’s handy bus policy, city officials are also looking at ways the conventional transit system can be as accessible as possible.

By Stephanie Waddell on February 19, 2014 at 3:59 pm

photo

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

CHANGES PROPOSED – Handy bus information would be presented in a more user-friendly way under the revised policy, says transit manager Cheri Malo (above).

As council ponders an update to the city’s handy bus policy, city officials are also looking at ways the conventional transit system can be as accessible as possible.

At Monday evening’s council meeting, transit manager Cheri Malo brought forward a proposed rewrite of the city’s handy bus policy.

It governs the door-to-door bus service for those unable to use the conventional system.

While council members didn’t seem to have any major issues with the changes brought forward – ranging from adding a definition to “disability” to new eligibility criteria – questions and comments centred on the accessibility of the conventional system.

The low floor buses the city now uses for its regular transit system means it’s easier for those with mobility issues – including those who use wheelchairs or have a harder time walking up stairs – to make use of the regular system, Malo said in answering questions from council members.

And many people are choosing the regular system, she said.

“It gives them the full freedom,” she commented.

Mayor Dan Curtis pointed out the ramp system allows those with wheelchairs to enter and exit buses without requiring additional help from the driver.

“It’s quick and easy and doesn’t slow our system down,” Malo said.

While there may be easy access on and off of the buses, Coun. Dave Stockdale questioned accessibility at bus stops.

Recalling his recent experience in Vancouver, where he had back surgery, he noted the transit system there allows for those with disabilities to board buses first.

Malo confirmed that’s the case in Whitehorse as well.

Stockdale then wondered if benches are provided at each bus stop in Whitehorse, noting it would have been difficult for him in Vancouver to wait a few minutes for a bus had there not been a bench to sit on.

Malo said transit officials will be looking at what’s provided at its bus stops and where the city should go on that in the spring.

Stockdale was then quick to suggest that memorial benches may be one way to raise the funds to help purchase more bus stop benches in Whitehorse.

While much of the conversation among council focused on the regular transit system, when it turned to the changes in the handy bus policy, a major focus for council members was on how staff would ensure handy bus users and the public are informed of the changes.

Malo noted that along with publishing the updated policy on the city’s website, the transit department would deliver copies of it to physiotherapists and doctors’ offices among other places clients go in an effort make sure they all get a copy.

Coun. Kirk Cameron then noted his concern for handy bus clients with cognitive disabilities who may not understand all the changes.

Malo noted each client provides the contact of a caregiver when they sign on to the handy bus service. Those caregivers will be sent a copy of the policy if it’s approved, she said.

Among the major changes to the policy, Malo said:

• information would be presented in a more user-friendly fashion;

• two new sections of the policy would detail the process for registering eligible riders;

• the city would commit to a 15-day turn-around time in processing applications with a provision for the transit manager to request in-person meetings with applicants if more information is needed;

• new eligibility criteria are outlined along with access status to the service from temporary, visitor, conditional and full access;

• the reservation process is clearly described, including types of trips, priority of service and reservation changes;

• room will be provided on the application for clients to describe the challenges they face using the conventional transit system; and

• the medical assessment form, which can only be completed by a registered medical professional, has placed more emphasis on physical, cognitive and sensory abilities of the client.

Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu questioned whether priority could be given to those without any transportation options over those who may live in a facility like Copper Ridge Place, which has a passenger van.

Malo noted those facilities often only have one driver for specific transportation needs as opposed to getting individuals to various appointments.

Council will vote on the proposed updates to the policy next week.

CommentsAdd a comment

Reality Check

Feb 20, 2014 at 10:42 am

...  Mayor Dan Curtis pointed out the ramp system allows those with wheelchairs to enter and exit buses without requiring additional help from the driver.
“It’s quick and easy and doesn’t slow our system down,” Malo said.  ...
All theory: If the bus is already 5 minutes late and add another 2 minutes each stop for a “not so quick acting” wheelchair client then we’re close to 10 minutes - or not?

...  Recalling his recent experience in Vancouver, where he had back surgery, he noted the transit system there allows for those with disabilities to board buses first. Malo confirmed that’s the case in Whitehorse as well.    ...
If everybody squeezes out the front door because they’re afraid to use the back door and then blocking the whole thing - it takes forever sometimes to continue keep going (seen more than once on my daily ride!)

...  Stockdale then wondered if benches are provided at each bus stop in Whitehorse, noting it would have been difficult for him in Vancouver to wait a few minutes for a bus had there not been a bench to sit on.
Malo said transit officials will be looking at what’s provided at its bus stops and where the city should go on that in the spring.  ...
Benches? Really? We have 6 months winter and darkness up here! How about shelters? Proper signage and lights for the bus stops?
Please wake up and please don’t compare Whitehorse with Vancouver! We won’t be Vancouver ever - not in 1000 years!

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