Jan 24, 2018
by Kristen Calis
Pickering News Advertiser
Better customer service is one of the improvements the Pickering accessibility advisory committee and Pickering council would like to see regarding Durham Region Transit’s treatment of people with disabilities and seniors.
Having been endorsed by council, a letter will be sent to Durham regional councillors asking them to collectively explore with DRT opportunities to improve its policies, procedures and practices to align itself better with values of the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
“We think that in Durham Region the other municipalities are likely having other concerns arise,” said Pickering accessibility coordinator Tim Higgins. “I know that to be true. It would probably be helpful to have a group discussion with the other municipalities and with Durham Region Transit and talk about customer service and how we see that as changing for the better going forward.”
DRT general manager Vincent Patterson said it works with accessible committees and with lower-tier municipalities on an ongoing basis.
“We’re all in this together pursuing the same objectives, removing (barriers) and making the transportation part as convenient as possible for everyone,” he said.
Higgins said the committee would appreciate more flexibility in DRT’s services.
“Flexibility about providing accommodations for disability is something they seem to struggle with,” he said. “They’re often looking for the grand solution, the one design that is going to work for everybody and treats everybody equally. But in accessibility, it’s more about thinking of providing outcomes that provide the same outcome or equity, not treating everyone the same and hoping that works.”
Patterson said transit options range from conventional routes to specialized services to taxi service.
“They have access to any and all of those depending on all of their needs and their abilities,” he said. “Instead of pigeonholing you into specific services, we want to open mobility options for you to have access to.”
Users must apply for specialized service. Whether or not a personal care attendant is required is based on an application process as well.