File photo                                The Regional District of Nanaimo handyDART Service is dealing with a high volume of cancellations and no-shows.

File photo The Regional District of Nanaimo handyDART Service is dealing with a high volume of cancellations and no-shows.

RDN to curb handyDart ‘no-shows’

New cancellation policy set to be implemented for custom transit services

The Regional District of Nanaimo handyDART Service is dealing with a high volume of cancellations and no-shows.

HandyDART is an accessible, door-to-door shared transit service for people with permanent or temporary disabilities that prevent them from using fixed-route transit without assistance from another person.

Last year, the custom transit service provided 60,211 rides but experienced 14,000 late cancellations and also 1,100 no-shows.

A ‘late cancellation’ are those cancelled within two hours of scheduled pick-up and a ‘no-show’ is when a handyDART arrives during the allotted pick up window and the client fails to present themselves.

Superintendent of transit and planning scheduling, Erica Beauchamp, explained in a report to the RDN transit committee that “it is very difficult to offer trips to other customers with short notice and thus, the trip space is unused.”

A new policy has been created to address this problem and improve the service. Beauchamp asked the committee to approve the policy for recommendation to the RDN board.

Beauchamp indicated cancellation policies are in place in other jurisdictions such as Williams Lake, Prince George, Penticton, Kamloops, Kelowna, Vernon, Cranbrook and Trail.

For those who have three unexplained no-shows or late cancellations within 30 days, a two-week suspension will be imposed. Subscription riders who have three unexplained no-shows or cancellations within 30 days may also lose their subscription status.

Incidents will not be counted as a no-show or late cancellation where the rider or caregiver has called with a valid reason (something beyond the rider’s control), within 24 hours after the scheduled trip.

The policy, Beauchamp said, would aid in decreasing the number of unmet trips, as well as the waiting list for subscriptions trips.

This policy would increase overall efficiency and allow services to reach those who would utilize them appropriately.