By Len Gillis
Thursday, February 22, 2018
Handy-Transit service in Timmins will be provided to a wider area of Timmins, but also at a higher cost. In view of the fact that taxi companies in the city have not provided any accessible taxicabs, the city has decided to offer a pay-as-you-go Handy-Transit service to remote and rural areas of the city, with fares running as high as $30.
TIMMINS – The City of Timmins is experimenting with expanded Handy-Transit service to a wider area of Timmins and with higher fare prices for those living in remote and rural areas.
City council approved the change this week in view of the fact that privatelyowned taxi companies have not yet stepped up to provide accessible taxicab service in the city.
Council’s decision came at the same time as a report was provided on Handy-Transit expansion by Timmins Transit manager Catherine Verreault.
She informed council that the pilot project to expand Handy-Transit began two years ago in response to concerns raised at the council table.
Coun. Joe Campbell introduced the idea of expanding to a wider area, instead of just the built-up urban area of the city. At first council balked at the idea, saying it was too costly. Council later went along when Campbell suggested a phasing-in approach.
In reporting back to council this week, Verreault revealed that that providing the service has not had any significant negative impact on the overall Handy-Transit operation.
Campbell said he was more than happy with the report. He said when the process began a couple of years ago, “there were some alarmist numbers thrown out which would cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars, which did not materialize,” he said.
He also said he was happy to read in the report that the continuation of Handy-Transit service has not had a notable impact on the resources required to deliver this service.
“That was a concern back then, too,” said Campbell, referring to the concern that additional Handy-Transit vehicles would be needed.
With that, Verreault said her department needed to know whether to stay the course.
“We brought the report forward, following the resolution that was passed in 2016, where we expanded our Handy-Transit Service. We had a Phase 1 expansion to the Delnite, Back Road, Ankerite. And then Phase 2 brought us to Airport Road, Laforest Road. So I guess what we’re looking for now is direction on whether or now we continue with the Handy-Transit service area expansion project,” she explained.
In response, Mayor Steve Black introduced a resolution to have Handy-Transit service provide a new pay-as-you-go type of system with a sliding scale of prices to remote areas of the city in response to requests from residents who live in areas not now served by Handy-Transit.
Black said he was responding to a specific constituent who said he was well aware he was living beyond the traditional service area for Handy-Transit, but was willing to pay a higher price for the service.
Coun. Pat Bamford asked whether this was in line with the accessibility law, since Handy-Transit prices in the built up area must be equal to conventional transit fares.
Verreault said she contacted the AODA directorate (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) on Tuesday and discovered the equal fare principal does not apply when Handy-Transit goes outside the built-up area for regular buses.
“They said we could go ahead,” Verreault told council.
Under the new bylaw approved by council this week, Handy-Transit will provide service at the rate of $10 for fares that are within 10 kilometres of the current service area.
For longer trips, within 20 kilometres of the current service area, the fare price rises to $20.
For trips beyond 20 kilometres in the city, the cost will be $30.
Council also decided if private taxi companies respond with properly-equipped accessible taxicabs, then the expanded Handy-Transit service will be reconsidered with a possible view to letting the taxi companies provide the service.