Citizens With Disabilities - Ontario
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Disabled Riders Frustrated Over OC / Para Turning Complaints Meeting Into Open House

For Immediate Release March 24th, 2008

Disabled Para Transpo riders are extremely frustrated that Alain Mercier, Head of OC Transpo and Pat Larkin, Head of Para Transpo have turned what was suppose to be a "Special Public Meeting" for Para riders to voice their concerns into an Open House where OC and Para Transpo plan to promote some of their programs.

In January and email was sent by Community Advocate Catherine Gardner to Councillor Cullen and other members of the City of Ottawa Transit Committee asking if a special meeting could be held where riders could voice a number of their concerns relating to the Para Transpo service. Concerns included long waits for pick ups, inability to get bookings, poor seatbelt system, along with numerous problems with the Para Taxis etc.

Sadly, Councillor Cullen denied Gardner’s request saying that she had already voiced her concerns and that she could take them up with Alain Mercier and or Pat Larkin or she could wait until the May Transit Committee meeting where the committee would be doing a review on the service.

At the Feb. 20th Transit Committee meeting both Councillor Wilkinson and Councillor Legendre had motions passed for us to have a special meeting and to have a Para bus on site where riders could demonstrate some of their concerns.

Gardner had earlier suggested to Mr. Mercier / Mr. Larkin that we would need at least two to three weeks to get the word out to riders as well as booking special services such as Sign Language, Captioning etc.

On Thursday, March 20th Gardner received a notice /and PDF flyer informing her of the details of the meeting. Gardner has yet to receive this notice from either OC or Para Transpo but had to count on a third party to get the word to her. This PDF flyer is not readable by community members who must rely on screen readers and did not promote any special access services for those wishing to attend.

Gardner says that riders were expecting a forum type meeting where they could get up one by one and voice their concerns instead these same riders are extremely frustrated that once again OC and Para have decided to ignore the issues faced on a daily basis and instead want to promote their programs.

As of March 24th there are no notices on the Para buses, and the only notice on the OC site is a small notice promoting the Open House and their programs http://www.octranspo.com/Whats_New/Para_OpenHouse_menuE.htm . One person who requires special services contacted Gardner today to say that the flyer is not accessible to those using screen readers, and that there is no promotion of services being provided to those who wish to attend.

Gardner is under the understanding that at least one Councillor will be attending the afternoon session and has said that she will ensure that people are heard. Gardner is also under the impression that there may also be another Councillor attending the evening session.

Gardner is encouraging as many riders, family members and support organizations to attend this meeting and will ensure that those who wish to address their concerns will be able to do so!

Special note for "all" passengers using OC and or Para (able and disabled)

Gardner is also promoting a peaceful demonstration on April 1st where all riders on either OC and or Para who are dissatisfied with their service and who use passes to use their March pass instead of the April pass. On OC there is a one day grace period.

She is also promoting that any passengers on Para who pay by cash or tickets to refuse to pay on April 1st and to get written up as a no fare! They will also get written up for using their March pass on April 1st even though the same pass is valid on OC.

You can find more information on this Open House which is not found on the OC Transpo website and or on the flyer by following this link http://catherinegardner.ca/blog/?p=65 . (this information was sent to me with the flyer)

Source: Catherine Gardner http://catherinegardner.ca/blog/?cat=25

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