But clients say if buses can run, so should service
Para Transpo has been cancelling some disabled riders’ “non-medical” trips this week due to the snow, frustrating some clients who accuse city transit of a double standard.
“Just because (clients) are not going to the hospital doesn’t mean they don’t need to go out — they could be running out of food,” said Catherine Gardner, a city advocate for the disabled, who said she’s been receiving complaints about Para Transpo since Sunday’s snow storm.
“We do not see OC Transpo telling able-bodied passengers to stay home … we’re not telling able-bodied people to stay off the buses because the streets aren’t plowed,” she said. “So how is it that you can tell us to stay home?”
But Para Transpo manager Patrick Larkin said the snow this week made it impossible to keep normal service levels, so a priority was placed on medical appointments.
“The snow on the streets and on the customer’s property has slowed us down tremendously and we have ended up picking people up very late,” said Larkin. “To provide a service that is an hour late is not serving the customers.”
Larkin said Para Transpo has been calling clients to cancel non-essential trips, and that most people have understood and re-booked.
Christine DeVries, who needs a scooter to get around, was asked this week by Para-Transpo to cancel a scheduled trip to Carlingwood Mall, so another client could make a medical appointment.
“They said, ‘If your trip is not of a medical nature would you consider cancelling your booking?’” said DeVries, who refused the request.
Gardner said the move plays persons with disabilities against each other, by trying to get some to cancel on behalf of others who may be looking for medical bookings.
Para Transpo should be hiring taxis to help if it can’t meet demand, Gardner said, especially at a time of year when disabled people also need to do their Christmas shopping or visit family members.