I am a Surrey resident with cerebral palsy who depends on handyDART for my daily transportation. Although handyDART is a very helpful service most of the time, it could use some improvements.There have been numerous occasions in the past year where handyDART's current unreliability has left me helplessly looking for a safe ride home or rushing my programs to accomodate their limited availability.
With the constant cuts of staff, the schedules have been so tight that handyDARTs are constantly arriving early or late and rushing away after their five-minute waiting time, occasionally, without even informing the client of their arrival.
On one occasion I was trying to book a ride home from work and the only accomodation that handyDART could provide was to arrange a handyDART from my work at Old Navy in Guildford to my day service office in North Delta, where I would have to wait an hour for another handyDART to pick me up and then return me to my home in Surrey. I got off work at 1 p.m. and wouldn't have returned home that day until 4 p.m. I had to cancel the ride and have my mother come and pick me up.
This type of service is an abomination. We as a society have come so far to give seniors and people with disabilities the same rights, independence and availabilities as everyone else. So I find it so hard to understand why we are constantly having our services cut and why we have to work so hard just to commute. Whether it be our work place, doctors' appointments, lunches, programs, social events, etc., it is already hard enough to be a part of society without having to fight to get a ride.
I have the ability to communicate and I have a cellphone, so I am able to ensure my own safety and correct the driver if they are making a mistake with either buckling me in or going the wrong direction. Taxis do not receive the same training as handyDART drivers and they are also not monitored the same. This puts the clients in jeopardy.
I would urge TransLink to reconsider this plan and would urge all others to advocate for themselves, and those who cannot, against handyDART's changes. I hope we can all come together to correct these issues so we can make our lives and the lives of those being served safer and of better quality.
Abneet Dhaliwal is a contributing columnist for Possabilities.
© Copyright 2013