Chris Ryan was thrilled to receive a job offer in Sylvan Lake AB. It was especially exciting to receive an offer during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, Ryan discovered transportation would be difficult. Ryan uses a wheelchair and requires accessible transportation.
Getting on-time, on-demand accessible transportation would require a $120 roundtrip surcharge. When Ryan lived in Edmonton his options weren’t any better. The service often would drop him off early or pick him up late.
Edmonton’s Disabled Adult Transit Service (DATS) offers door-to-door, shared public transit for residents who can’t use the regular transit services because of physical or cognitive disabilities. Trips are scheduled in advance and are suppose to arrive within a 30-minute pickup window. That window, according to the city, is in alignment with industry standards when compared to similar municipalities.
In the Unitied States, paratransit users face similar challenges. The paratransit service in Boston Massachusetts doesn’t arrive on time thousands of times a year In 2019, 8% of The Ride’s trips were cancelled or arrived late. By 2021, that percentage had increased to 14%, with Ride drivers being absent from roughly 17,000 trips and late for an additional 89,000.
Vera Perez Santiago of Florence, Massachusetts, works as a substitute teacher in Holyoke and rides PVTA paratransit to work due to her visual impairment . In 2018, sometimes she was picked up two hours after work and dropped off an hour before her shift began.
For disabled people who are unable to drive, paratransit can be a lifeline. People utilize the service to get to work, family gatherings and other events. People with disabilities don’t need to watch the world go by in their homes. Disabled people should be able to access their communities. Accessible transportation allows us to do so.
Christensen, Dusty. “’Transportation Is Not a Luxury’: Paratransit Riders Air Frustrations” Daily Hampshire Gazette, Newspapers of New England, 25 Oct. 2018, https://www.gazettenet.com/PVTA-paratransit-riders-complain-about-service-21061219.
Curran, Kathy, and Jon Wells. “MBTA’s Paratransit Service ‘the Ride’ Plagued by Late, Missed Trips.” WCVB, WCVB, 18 Feb. 2022, https://www.wcvb.com/article/massachusetts-mbta-paratransit-service-plagued-by-late-and-missed-trips/39124647.
Labine, Jeff. “‘It Is Never on Time’: City Looking for Ways to Improve Paratransit Service.” The Edmonton Journal , Postmedia Network, 14 Nov. 2019, https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/it-is-never-on-time-city-looking-for-ways-to-improve-paratransit-service/.
Ryan , Chris. “Opinion | There’s No Getting around – Alberta’s Lack of Accessibility Law Is My Ballot Box Issue .” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 6 Apr. 2023, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/opinion-chris-ryan-alberta-accessibility-legislation-wheelchair-transit-1.6798361.