TransLink pledges full review of HandyDart

Promise to rethink service standards, contracting out wins praise from users

HandyDart Riders Alliance co-chair Tim Louis praised new TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond's commitment to a full review of how HandyDart service is delivered.

TransLink will conduct an extensive review of how it runs the HandyDart system to decide whether the paratransit service should remain contracted out or brought back in house, as well as other potential changes.

The commitment from new CEO Kevin Desmond came after he met with disability advocates and agreed on the new process to address their long-standing complaints about the service operated by U.S. contractor MVT.

“We’re going to go through a review to find what the best way and what the best model is going to be,” Desmond said, adding review will happen in late 2016.

Also to be reviewed are service standards and policies, how they should be set and whether they should change.

“It doesn’t matter who is providing the service, it is our job and our responsibility to ensure our customers get quality of service,” Desmond said.

He said the review will also consider how much subsidized use of taxis should happen as an alternative to HandyDart.

TransLink had stepped up its use of taxis in recent years to accommodate more trip requests, reaching 8.3 per cent of HandyDart trips delivered by taxi last year.

HandyDart users have repeatedly complained about service from both the contracted HandyDart door-to-door shuttle service and taxis, as well as trip denials when the service isn’t available.

Desmond said some taxi use is common and a “best practice” in other jurisdictions, but said TransLink needs to get the balance right.

HandyDart Riders Alliance co-chair Tim Louis said he’s pleased Desmond has agreed to have an outside expert compare whether public or private sector delivery of the service is best.

He said the users believe the current contracted service means millions of dollars disappear from the region each year in profit to the private operator.

“If that profit were used instead here in the region to raise service levels, HandyDart service levels could be raised,” Louis said. “What we would like to see is a win-win situation where taxpayers get better bang for their bucks and users get a higher level of service at no cost to the taxpayer.”

A stakeholder advisory committee is also promised to oversee the review and Louis said that should help ensure everyone can come together behind whatever final service delivery model is decided.

He credited Desmond for helping find common ground and said the new CEO has made “very speedy progress” both on the HandyDart service concerns and in identifying a solution for disabled access through faregates.

TransLink’s contract with MVT to run HandyDart expires at the end of 2016, but it’s expected to be temporarily extended pending the results of the review.

 

Just Posted

VIDEO: Giants wrap southern swing with 6-4 win in Spokane

The Langley-based hockey team defeated the Chiefs Friday night.

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered Langley girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

WATCH: Farm Country Brewing in Langley City expected to open in summer

Farm Country Brewing is currently under construction and is planned to open in summer 2019.

LETTER: Langley/Surrey shortchanged on transit for Vancouver

Funding to get SkyTrain to Langley City could come from not undergrounding Vancouver’s extension.

LETTER: Area letter writer puts Trump government shutdown in perspective

A Maple Ridge letter writer is critical of Hillary Clinton’s comments about the shutdown.

Self serve doggy-wash poised to change dog grooming industry

Add money, start spraying to wash dog in the K9000

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

Women and allies marched worldwide protesting violence against women, calling for equality

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Scientists ID another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon

For two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years

Burnaby byelection turmoil sparks debate about identity issues in politics

The Liberals still have not said whether they plan to replace Wang, who stepped aside Wednesday

B.C. woman planned to donate a kidney to her husband, then found out she has cancer

Richard Stuart needs a kidney, his wife Tracy has been diagnosed with cancer

Most Read