Happy New Year from the HandyDART Riders’ Alliance!

2016 was a momentous year for the HandyDART Riders’ Alliance, and 2017 is shaping up to be just as busy and important. We have achieved a lot, and with your help can achieve a lot more.

The HRA has been working for years to get regular annual increases in HandyDART service. And now we have been promised increases in 2017, 2018 & 2019. This is much better than the situation since 2009, and sets the stage for further increases in future years.

Before thinking about the year to come, it seems like time to take a look back. In 2008, the Provincial Liberals unveiled a grandiose pre-election transit plan. It had something for everyone, and a price tag of $14 billion dollars. The provincial Liberals were re-elected in 2009. And they quickly reneged on their transit promises and started cutting back on Transit service, including HandyDART.

HandyDART Riders’ Alliance Co-chair Beth McKellar discussed this history at the December TransLink Board meeting – watch at https://youtu.be/xl_Us4cYXl4?t=22m1s

Beth Video Dec 8 2016

Beth McKellar speaks to TransLink board on Dec 8, 2016

The growing population of seniors means the number of people with disabilities is increasing twice as fast as the rest of the population. And HandyDART service levels per capita have been declining since shortly after the 2009 election.

HandyDART riders can’t even be sure who is making the decisions that affect our lives and human rights. In March 2015, Frances Bula wrote in the Globe and Mail that according to “numerous politicians and TransLink employees, the agency’s executives and staff are on the phone to the Transportation Ministry in Victoria several times a week, getting clearance for everything from news releases to new equipment.”  This kind of political micro-management is obviously dysfunctional, and must be very frustrating for TransLink staff.

There will be a provincial election on May 9 2017, and we will ensure that this history is not forgotten.

We appreciate the positive steps taken since Kevin Desmond became TransLink CEO in March 2016. But we won’t just wait and trust the process, because the process is still broken and the problems are too urgent to wait. We also know that some of the problems can only be fixed at the level of the provincial government.

Tim Louis speaks to media at July 2016 TransLink board meeting

Tim Louis speaks to media at July 2016 TransLink board meeting

We were assured that $800,000 was going to increase HandyDART service in 2016, and that 90% of this would go to HandyDART buses. We want to see the numbers, and be sure that this actually happened. Only HandyDART buses driven by trained and dedicated professionals provide the kind of service many HandyDART riders need.

HandyDART riders have been promised a 15% increase in HandyDART service in 2017-19. However, we have yet to see numbers that add up to a 15% increase in service. The devil is in the details, and we will be looking at the details very closely in 2017. We will also be campaigning for ongoing increases in service in 2020 and beyond. The need will keep increasing – the baby boomers are not getting younger.

For quality HandyDART service that meets the needs of people with disabilities and older seniors, HandyDART must either be brought in-house as a TransLink subsidiary or turned over to a non-profit agency. This question is being examined with input from the “Custom Transit Service Delivery Review Stakeholder Advisory Committee.” HandyDART Riders’ Alliance members Tim Louis and Patrick Maxcy are on the committee. It is a very good thing there is a process in place to look at bringing HandyDART in-house. But too many people who do not use HandyDART regularly are involved. We hope that this process will result in a positive outcome, but the choice of a multinational corporation as the consultant is not a good sign.

We have not been lulled into complacency. And we need your help to make 2017 a good year for HandyDART riders!

HandyDART Riders At TransLink Board Meeting

HandyDART Riders At TransLink Board Meeting

HandyDART Riders At TransLink Board Meeting

HandyDART Riders At TransLink Board Meeting

Mayors Approve Plan w 15% HandyDART Increase

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HandyDART riders and workers wait for the Mayors’ Council vote

Good news! Today the #TransLink Board and the Mayors’ Council both voted unanimously to approve their ‘Phase One Plan’ which includes a 15% HandyDART increase over 3 years. This HandyDART increase is the result of lots of hard work from HandyDART Riders and allies. So take a moment to celebrate!

But the devil is in the details, and tomorrow the #HandyDART Riders Alliance will start working on the details, and we will need your help in the months ahead. In fact, you can help today by writing a letter to the editor of any of the papers covering this issue. Some points to consider: Continue reading

Media Release: Transit Plan Approval Crucial for HandyDART Riders

Tim July 2016 TL Board Mtg - SmallMedia Release: HandyDART Riders’ Alliance

Transit Plan Approval Crucial for HandyDART Riders
Mayor’s Council Phase One Plan marks return to regular HandyDART service increases

The HandyDART Riders’ Alliance is urging all the mayors on the TransLink Mayor’s Council to approve their Phase One transit funding plan this month. Members of the group will attend the Mayors Council meeting on November 10th to make their case in person. Continue reading

Thurs Nov 10 – Ask Mayors to Vote Yes to More HandyDART Service!

HandyDART Riders At TransLink Board Meeting

HandyDART Riders At TransLink Board Meeting

The HandyDART Riders’ Alliance has been working for years to get regular annual increases in HandyDART service. And now your mayor will get a chance to vote YES to about a 13% increase in HandyDART service over three years. This is much better than the situation since 2009, and sets the stage for further increases in future years. Continue reading

Good & Bad News for HandyDART – Action Needed Today!

HandyDART Riders At TransLink Board Meeting

HandyDART Riders At TransLink Board Meeting

It has been an eventful few months since our last newsletter, with some significant good news for HandyDART riders. But we just got some concerning news and need your help today!

First the good news:

•    In September TransLink reported a HandyDART budget increase of $820,000 to fund 33,000 additional trips to meet increasing demand this year. TransLink reports that 90% of these trips are to be provided by HandyDART bus. This is only a small increase, but it is an important step in the right direction. Continue reading

Media Release: HandyDART Riders Celebrate Positive Steps at TransLink

Tim Louis speaks to media

Tim Louis speaks to media

HandyDART Riders Celebrate Positive Steps at TransLink
Group eager to work with TransLink to improve HandyDART service

The HandyDART Riders’ Alliance says they are very pleased with the significant commitments made by TransLink’s CEO Kevin Desmond at today’s board meeting. Continue reading

(Updated) Thurs June 23rd – Speak out for More & Better HandyDART Service!

Bet - 24hrs photo[Updated Monday June 20 – Good news & speaking time change]

HandyDART riders made a big impression at the last two TransLink board meetings, and we expect to hear some good news at the next one. Please join us there to show your support for what we hope will be a significant step in the right direction. Continue reading

On Wed March 30th Keep up the Pressure for Better HandyDART Service!

Bet & Patrick - WebHandyDART riders made a big impression at the December TransLink board meeting, and we need to do it again! After that meeting the TransLink board chair told the Vancouver Sun “We had an offer to work with these folks more and we want to do that. We will consider (taking HandyDart) in-house.”

Continue reading

Media Release: HandyDART riders say ditch US corporation for savings and better service

Media Release

For immediate release

HandyDART riders say ditch US corporation for savings and better service:
Group wants service provided by TransLink or non-profitHRA Mainstreeting 001

When: Wednesday December 9, 10:30 am
What: HandyDART riders demonstrate and speak at TransLink Board meeting
Where: 287 Nelson’s Court New Westminster, near Sapperton SkyTrain Station

The HandyDART Riders’ Alliance says that faceless corporations can’t respect the rights of people with disabilities, and are demanding that HandyDART service be run by a public or non-profit organization. At the open TransLink board meeting on Wednesday December 9, the group will propose terminating the contract with the present US-based contractor when it expires in 2017. Continue reading

On Wed Dec. 9th, Speak out for Better HandyDART Service!

NV Group - smFor years, the TransLink Board has met behind closed doors, but thanks to public pressure they will be meeting in public on Wednesday December 9, 2015. And HandyDART riders need to be there to demand better service! The location is Room #400 – 287 Nelson’s Court New Westminster, near Sapperton SkyTrain Station (up a steep hill). Continue reading