Transportation

The Plot Thickens

Submitted by Fiona Watson on Thu, 03/24/2011 - 19:55

I received an email from the manager of Mobility Plus. In it, I was told that the difference between them and Toronto’s TTC Wheel Trans is that Wheel Trans buses do not have seat belts. I am not sure where Mobility Plus is getting their information, but someone isn’t doing their homework. Wheel-Trans vehicles have seat belts. Attendants who are “non-registered riders” are permitted to stand, without a seatbelt, just as they would on a conventional service vehicle (TTC bus).

Mobility Plus says that they are following the guidelines of the Highway Traffic Act regarding seat belt usage, but if they are bound by it, then why isn’t Wheel-Trans?

Mobility Plus talks about wanting to ensure the safety of everyone concerned. They have repeatedly said that my attendant standing endangers other people on the vehicle. It is interesting to note that Mobility Plus has acknowledged that customers who can provide a letter of medical exemption are not required to wear a seat belt when on the bus. Following their logic, doesn’t that mean that anyone on the bus with such a customer is at risk? What is the difference?

Mobility Plus has offered two options: have the driver stop whenever needed (totally impractical since he or she would need to stop every few seconds), or have an OT evaluate me and make recommendations. Sigh.

I sent them my thoughts and requested a face-to-face meeting. The reply I received failed to acknowledge a single point I raised. I’m agreeing to meet with an OT to prove my needs once again. Stay tuned.

YORK REGION MOBILITY PLUS LEAVES ME MINUS MOBILITY

Submitted by Fiona Watson on Mon, 03/07/2011 - 11:00

In early January, I moved from Toronto to Newmarket. I have severe Muscular Dystrophy and use an electric wheelchair. It took a lot of planning to ensure that I would be able to function in my new home and community.

I applied to Mobility Plus, York Region’s specialized transportation service, in December. Shortly after I moved, I was visited by an Inspector who needed to confirm that I am unable to use a minivan because of my height and chair size. I soon received my registration card and was on my way…or so I thought.

I booked a ride to go to a medical appointment and when the bus arrived, I boarded. My attendant took up her usual position beside me. The nature of my disability requires that I have neck and head support as well as assistance balancing to facilitate my breathing. I was shocked when the driver of the vehicle said my attendant had to sit and wear a seatbelt at all times. After explaining my needs to her, the driver made a phone call and said she couldn’t proceed unless the attendant sat down. Even if my attendant was sitting a couple of feet from me, the driver stated she couldn’t undo her belt to assist me. It’s interesting to note that on the Mobility Plus application, one of the questions asks if the applicant requires an attendant to travel with them, and why. If the accompanying attendant cannot assist the applicant, why would they require an attendant? It boggles the mind. I had no choice but to disembark and miss my appointment.

I immediately contacted the Inspector who had met with me and was told to provide a physician’s letter explaining why the attendant needed to stand. I submitted a letter, was given an amendment by their office, and sent in the revised note. After hearing nothing for 10 days, I contacted the Inspector again. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been given a myriad of reasons why I cannot be accommodated and yes, I am still waiting for resolution. Late last week, the Inspector gave the impression that nothing could be done. On Friday, I received an e-mail from someone in authority who said they are “still investigating“.

Surely I am not the only consumer who requires assistance while on a vehicle? People stand on “regular” busses every day. I can’t help but wonder how many people who do not know how to self-advocate (or have the support of family and friends) are sitting housebound after being told the same thing.

Ironically, I sent my resume to the York Region Accessibility Advisory Committee when I heard that they were looking for members to help make York Region more accessible for people with disabilities. I was delighted when they contacted me for an interview. Unfortunately, I was unable to schedule and attend a meeting with them and have missed a wonderful opportunity to contribute to my new community. I suggested that they consider using my current transportation predicament as a future agenda item.

I’m supposed to receive an update from Mobility Plus today or Tuesday, so watch this space.

The Bumpy Road Continues

Submitted by Fiona Watson on Wed, 03/09/2011 - 11:15

The plot thickens…

I received an email from the manager of Mobility Plus. In it, I was told that the difference between them and Toronto’s TTC Wheel Trans is that Wheel Trans buses do not have seat belts. I am not sure where Mobility Plus is getting their information, but someone isn’t doing their homework. Wheel-Trans vehicles have seat belts. Attendants who are “non-registered riders” are permitted to stand, without a seatbelt, just as they would on a conventional service vehicle (TTC bus).

Mobility Plus says that they are following the guidelines of the Highway Traffic Act regarding seat belt usage, but if they are bound by it, then why isn’t Wheel-Trans?

TTC buses do not have seatbelts for passengers, but do have tie-downs and seat belts for persons with mobility devices (wheelchairs and scooters). Few drivers offer to fasten a person’s mobility device. They are supposed to do so if asked. Since seat belts are provided for persons with disabilities on TTC buses (and subways) are they contravening the Highway Traffic Act by not using them?

Mobility Plus has offered two options: have the driver stop whenever needed (totally impractical since he or she would need to stop every few seconds), or have an OT evaluate me and make recommendations (yet another example of fixing the person with the disability instead of the inaccessible, unaccommodating transit system).

In closing, Mobility Plus talks about wanting to ensure the safety of everyone concerned. They have repeatedly said that my attendant standing endangers other people on the vehicle. It is interesting to note that Mobility Plus has acknowledged that customers who can provide a letter of medical exemption are not required to wear a seat belt when on the bus. Following their logic, doesn’t that mean that anyone on the bus with such a customer is at risk? What is the difference?

I’ve sent them my thoughts and have requested a face-to-face meeting. Stay tuned.

(P.S. I have noticed that someone has commented on my blog and asked whether or not I have someone beside me 24/7. I would like to respond and say no, I don't, but then again, when I am in a room it usually isn't moving and turning corners repeatedly.... but thanks for asking.)

Parking fines triple

City claims it's not a cash racket

By TAMARA CHERRY, SUN MEDIA

March 14, 2008

Photo of a traffic enforcement officer placing a ticket on someone car windshield.Parking Enforcement Officer Hanif Khakoo tickets a car on the Church St.-Esplanade area. (Jack Boland, Sun Media)

Tripling the amount drivers will pay for parking illegally in disabled, fire hydrant or fire route spaces has nothing to do with increasing revenue for a cash-strapped Toronto, the city says.

"What we are really hoping is that it will not bring any more revenue," the city's director of traffic management Roberto Stopnicki said yesterday, after the new fines took effect.

"What would be ideal is that the actual revenue that is brought as a result of these fines is continuously decreased because the public is continuously abiding by the law."

As of midnight yesterday, parking in a handicapped spot without a permit will cost Torontonians $450, up from $50-$150, depending on different bylaws of former municipalities.

The idea for this hike was conceived in 2002 in response to the provincial Ontarians with Disabilities Act. "The people who actually needed to use the spaces were not able to do that," Stopnicki said. Parking near a fire hydrant will now cost you $100, up from $30. Blocking a fire route will mean $250 out of your pocket, up from $75-$100.

These increases were recommended in 2004, but the city has had to wait until recently for provincial approval.

There were 5,500 handicapped parking tickets issued in 2006, but "severely alarming" was the number of fire-related tickets, Stopnicki said.

Nearly 40,000 were issued for blocking fire routes in 2006 and about 35,000 were for fire hydrant violations, he said.