The Regional District of Nanaimo is looking at upgrading the process for HandyDART service registration.
BC Transit and the RDN want to move toward a more accurate and personalized method of registering custom transit riders with disabilities.
HandyDART is a public transit service that uses specially equipped vehicles designed to carry passengers, with physical or cognitive disabilities, who are unable to use public transit without assistance.
In 2015, BC Transit piloted and applied the Canada-wide used Revised Custom Registration Process.
The RDN transit committee now wants to introduce it to new HandyDart applications as well as current clients that demonstrate a change or decline in their abilities.
The proposed revised process includes an in-person assessment with a mobility co-ordinator or occupational therapist in order to assess applicants’ cognitive and physical abilities and consider their needs to the most appropriate type of transit services available — custom, conventional or mixed.
At present, those registering for HandyDART services are required to only provide a completed, impersonal and self-declared, paper-based application form. It’s reviewed by HandyDART dispatchers. Without the aid of a professional, clients could be denied the opportunity to be assessed based on their mobility devices from a transit perspective.
Superintendent of transit planning and scheduling, Eric Beauchamp, informed the RDN transit select committee that the current application process does not address individual needs, travel needs, ability to use conventional transit, variable conditions (weather, daylight) or conditional eligibility such as steep hills.
Beauchamp also pointed out that when a HandyDART driver notes a decline in a client’s cognitive or physical abilities, getting assessed by a professional such as a occupational therapist is important.
At this time, there is no formal process to follow up on a client’s noted declined in abilities, she said.
The custom registration process has already been implemented across Canada.
In B.C., several transit properties have applied it, including Campbell River, Comox Valley, Cowichan Valley, Kelowna, Kamloops, Central Fraser Valley, Chilliwack, Sunshine Coast and Vernon.