Starting next year, those wishing to use the Regional District of Nanaimo’s HandyDART services must register in-person and be assessed by a mobility co-ordinator.
The RDN board approved a staff recommendation to update the current process, which only requires a paper-based self-application form.
HandyDART is a public transit service that uses specially equipped vehicles designed to carry passengers with physical or cognitive disabilities who are unable to use public transit without assistance.
Superintendent for planning and scheduling, Erica Beauchamp, reported that the new requirement would be accurate as it will ensure the needs and abilities of applicants are matched with the most appropriate type of transit services available. The mobility co-ordinator would evaluate both the applicant’s cognitive and physical abilities, as well as the ability of the applicant to travel safely alone. It will help determine whether the client is more suitable for custom transit or conventional transit, or a combination of both.
The current B.C. Transit fleet is versatile and has made improvements in accessibility, according to a staff report, with buses that can transport people using wheelchairs, scooters, walkers and other mobility aids. Educating riders about the services that are available is one of the goals of the new registration process.
RDN Custom Transit has on its waiting list more than 100 requests for subscription trips, which are regularly scheduled trips on one or more days per week at the same time each day, for which a client does not need to continuously call in to book them. Due to the importance of these trips in clients’ day-to-day lives, subscription trips are in high demand and there is limited availability, causing some clients to be on a waiting list.
But there is also high percentage of unmet trips, seven per cent, which exceeds the recommended target of one per cent. With the region’s population growing and demand for custom transit services increasing, emphasizing the need for a better process will ensure that the regional district remain focused on and available to customers who require the specialized services the most, the RDN says.