HandyDart survey underway

Users of the HandyDart transit system around the province are being asked what they think of the service.

The Office of the Seniors Advocate is conducting a province-wide survey of HandyDart users.

The Office of the Seniors Advocate is conducting a province-wide survey of HandyDart users.

The Office of the Seniors Advocate has launched the largest ever survey of B.C.’s HandyDart service, to see how well the service is helping people meet their transportation needs.

HandyDart is a door-to-door bus service provided by TransLink, BC Transit, and their service providers for passengers with physical or cognitive disabilities who are unable to use conventional public transit without assistance. The majority of users, approximately 73 per cent, are aged 65 or older. It is offered in several local communities through Yellowhead Community Services.

People in Ashcroft and area who use the service should have received the survey; if they have not, they should call the office at 1-877-952-3181. Seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie says that 30,000 surveys have been sent out, and they expect to get a lot of replies.

“We need to hear from more people in small communities, to find out what people in rural B.C. need,” she explains. “It’s more important for [every user] in Ashcroft to reply than people in the Lower Mainland.

“Transportation is identified as a key issue for seniors. We need to ensure a robust transportation system is in place for seniors, most of whom are still active, but may no longer be able to drive. HandyDart is part of that system.”

The comprehensive survey asks a range of questions, beginning with how people found the application process. “I’m interested to know if the cost of using HandyDart is an impediment,” says Mackenzie. “If people use the service every day, is the cost a burden? Do people favour a more progressive fee system, where people with a higher income pay a higher fee?”

The survey will also ask what users think of the service’s availability, and about users’ overall satisfaction levels with HandyDart. To ensure statistical integrity, a sample of every other client will be surveyed on Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, and the Okanagan, while all clients in the other three regions that offer the service will be surveyed.

The survey can be completed on paper and mailed to the Office of the Seniors Advocate, or completed online, by November 7. The survey results will then be collated, and Mackenzie says that the findings will be presented to the provincial government as part of an overall review of seniors’ transportation issues.

“If we don’t hear from people what they want, it makes planning difficult. People who use the system have a better understanding of the challenges and consequences. It’s important to hear from users, and not just plan in a vacuum.”

Ashcroft Cache Creek Journal

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