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Travel Woes of the Disabled in Our Community

September 30, 2009

You are a person with a disability. That disability requires that you use a wheelchair or scooter for mobility. In this case, your disability is Multiple Sclerosis and you need to attend one of the special clinics for MS in Toronto to see your neurologist. You live in a city/town or rural area in Simcoe County.

The important question is: “How do you get there?”

For travel, you require an accessible vehicle — a vehicle that enables you and your wheelchair/scooter to travel together. You do not own such a vehicle; you do not know anyone who owns such a vehicle.

Then you look for a company or organization that might just have an accessible vehicle or know where you might find one. In some areas, you may be able to arrange transportation through Red Cross — if they have an accessible van assigned to your particular area.

You may be able to arrange with a local taxi company to take you to your appointment, wait for you and bring you back to your home.

If you live in Barrie, you would be familiar with BACTS bus service which is an exceptional service, but which does not travel beyond the Barrie city limits. Or if you can arrange transportation to Barrie or Bradford, you might be able to take the GO train into Toronto and back (depending upon your appointment time), but that will not take you to your appointment which leaves you to sort out an accessible transportation source there.

Some subway stops are accessible; some are not. Wheel Trans, which is Toronto’s accessible transportation carrier, may be available to you for a one-day appointment.

You may be able to call an accessible taxi. Now, if you are able to get an accessible taxi (there is one within Barrie), and if it is available for the significant portion of the day that you will require it for, you will pay dearly for that service, or you can call a company from Toronto — price tag between $350 and $550. Where do you find that kind of money?

It is time that levels of government (federal, provincial and municipal) collaborate to ensure that transportation is a right and that it is accessible to all.

The Ontario provincial government is considering a report from the Accessibility for Ontarians Transportation Standards Committee, one of five committees formed under Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Legislation (AODA), which will define how our transportation system within the province will ensure equal access for travel. Will this report make a difference to the individual listed above?

How quickly can that person expect relief to travel just as a person who does not have a disabling condition? Within five years? 10 years? Or will it take until 2025? Or will it take a full 20 years to make travel between communities and Toronto inclusive and available and accessible to all?

Jeanette Elliott
Simcoe County Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society

Article ID# 1775025

Reproduced from http://www.midlandfreepress.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1775025