The City of Penticton is investing $8,000 in a B.C. Transit program aimed at increasing the efficiency of their handyDART Service.
Daniel Pizarro, senior regional transit manager and Danielle Harriott, accessibility program manager, met with city council Monday to discuss problems with increasing demand on the service, which provides door-to-door, bus service for people whose disabilities prevent them from using regular transit services independently.
B.C. Transit regards the service as essential to the quality of life for these people, but says demand has been growing so much that the service is facing challenges.
As more people access handyDART, it gets harder for many to get the trips they need especially at peak times, resulting in significant number of unmet trips.
The Transit representatives told council that expanding service areas coupled with a rising number of seniors, meant that the number of unmet trips would continue to grow.
Currently, 99.9 per cent of riders applying for the service are approved, but a new, more intensive registration process for new users would help to educate riders about the suitability of handyDART and slow the rate of demand.
“We would make sure that people using that service that actually have a need to,” said Mitch Moroziuk, Penticton’s director of operations. “We want to avoid having to turn people away. This process will ensure the right people are riding that bus and other people can still make use of the conventional transit system.”
Coun. Judy Sentes said it would be prudent for Penticton to become involved in the new registration program.
“I agree with them, I think there will be even more demand for this service,” said Sentes. “I would like for us to be in a state of being prepared, rather than trying to catch up.”
The assessments and public education in the program will cost about $22,000, of which Penticton’s share would be $7,500 to $8,000, which council voted unanimously to include in the 2016 budget.