November 18, 2015 - 2:30 PM
PENTICTON - A new registration process for B.C. Transit handyDART users is aimed at cutting the number of handyDART riders by matching applicants to the appropriate service.
Daniel Pizarro, Senior Regional Transit Manager for B.C. Transit, and Accessibility Program Manager Danielle Harriott met with Penticton city council and staff members Monday, Nov.16, to discuss the possibility of adopting the new registration process in Penticton.
Harriott explained the current registration process consists only of a paper application form that riders fill out and send to B.C. Transit. The process is essentially one of 'self certification,' with a 99.9 per cent approval rate.
Harriott said while that was OK in the past, B.C. Transit is dealing with a rising number of unmet trips by handyDART passengers who book a trip but can’t get on the bus because it’s full.
“It’s not a huge problem in Penticton, but it’s getting worse,” Harriott said, noting 25 trips have been unmet in Penticton by 790 registered HandyDART users so far this year.
She said the handyDART program was based on need, not convenience, and the idea behind the new registration process was to ensure those using the bus were doing so because disabilities prevented them from using regular transit.
A pilot program introduced in Comox and Vernon two years ago has proven successful enough that B.C. Transit is now looking for other municipalities to adopt the new registration process. Harriott said Penticton is a good candidate city because of a large and rising demographic of elderly in the community.
The number of unmet trips dropped during the pilot program and the number of active registrants stabilized, Harriott said. Applicants also learned new information about transit options available to them, a key result of the pilot program, she noted.
“More than 50 per cent of the applicants said they learned more about transit. Part of the new process is about trying to educate our riders,” Harriott said. "A lot of transit users didn’t know about such things as low-floor buses. The issue is it’s ingrained in some people that handyDART service is the only service available to them."
The new registration process will apply only to new applicants, in a process that looks at the individual applicant to ensure capacity on handyDart buses is available to those who can’t use any other transit service.
Council agreed to the changes. Roll out of the new process could begin in March or April next year.
The estimated cost to implement the new registration is $24,000 annually, with the City of Penticton responsible for $7,900 of that amount.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015