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Citizens With Disabilities - Ontario
"TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER"

         



Accessible Transit Called Unreliable

Users often don't arrive at or leave work on time

May 30, 2007 04:30 AM
Helen Henderson

People with disabilities may be turned down for jobs because a broken-down, wheelchair-accessible transit system cannot get them to work on time.

That's one of the many complaints Toronto Star readers passed on following a Saturday column on the breakdown in Wheel-Trans service.

"People with disabilities relying on accessible transportation to get to and from work cannot assure that they will always be on time," says Stephen Largy, manager of a group that helps find jobs in Peel, Halton and Dufferin.

Largy's program, offered through the Coalition for Persons with Disabilities - disabilityaccess.org - helps people who are eager to work but already face an uphill battle because they move or process information differently from the majority.

As many as 80 per cent of people with disabilities are underemployed or unemployed, according to statistics gathered by the Canadian Association of Independent Living Centres.

Employers hiring anyone who relies on Wheel-Trans in Toronto and TransHelp in Peel must accept start times that vary "because of the frequent unreliability of the accessible transportation network," says Largy, of Mississauga Practice Firm 4 Persons with Disabilities.

In addition, he says, people with disabilities "can be relatively sure that they will not be able to get to work on days when weather provides even the smallest delay factor."

It is also common for them to finish work and "wait anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes because their scheduled ride is running late," Largy says.

While transit users say most drivers try their best to accommodate riders, complaints of busy signals, impossible waits and unavailable rides are rife.

In a recent client satisfaction survey, TransHelp says 15 per cent of clients stated they had lodged a complaint in the previous six months. But overall satisfaction with the most recent ride rated 8.6 out of 10, TransHelp adds.

Bob Thacker, the TTC's general superintendent in charge of Wheel-Trans, says the group is working on a new computerized system and plans to hire more staff in the interim. But "change takes time." Ultimately, the best solution is to make all public transit wheelchair-accessible, Largy says.

Taken from http://www.thestar.com/living/article/218992.

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