Wednesday, January 4, 2023

HandyDART - Access Transit Service Update

One type of transit service we don’t spend a lot of time talking about is Access Transit, best known for the HandyDART service. This service evolved from various non-profits that provided door-to-door service for people to get to medical appointments and other essential daily trips. Today Access Transit service is funded and managed by TransLink and is contracted out to First Transit.

HandyDART Bus. Photo by Stephen Rees

Anyone with a physical, sensory, or cognitive disability who cannot use conventional public transit without assistance is eligible to apply to use Access Transit. The service is door-to-door.

With Access Transit, people are either dispatched a HandyDART bus or taxi if a HandyDART vehicle is unavailable. In talking with folks with knowledge and lived experience using Access Transit service, getting a taxi can create challenges as taxi operators don’t have the same training or vehicles to help people with disabilities. Whenever possible, Access Transit service should be delivered by HandyDART.

In September, the latest month where information is available, 77% of Access Transit trips were delivered with HandyDART operators and vehicles, while 23% of trips were by taxi vehicles.

The goal should be to lower taxi trips, which TransLink is working towards.

In Langley City, you will see a lot of HandyDART buses in our Downtown area due to the demographics of folks who live there. Overall, we are seeing an increased demand for HandyDART service throughout Metro Vancouver which will only continue to rise as our population ages. Another goal is to make conventional public transit more universally accessible so more people can use conventional transit services whenever possible.

To help improve the HandyDART user experience, TransLink is rolling out a new system that will provide online trip booking for customers, improved dispatch efficiency, and better reporting. TransLink is targeting the system to go online at the end of 2024.

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