OC Transpo: The public transportation system that also leaves PWD behind
To put it lightly, OC Transpo had a rough week last week.
First, the LRT broke down due to a “minor derailment,” which, by the way, are two words that should never go together. The minor derailment forced the shutdown of the LRT for almost a week. During those seven days, riders were fuming about long delays, which I agree with. Longer wait times also mean more people waiting at stops and more passengers on OC Transpo buses.
During a pandemic, that’s one of the last places that anyone wants to be.
The second incident last week involved a double-decker bus ending up in a ditch. This resulted in all double-decker buses being removed.
The good news in both cases is that nobody got injured.
Both incidents got me thinking, though.
What would happen if a person with a disability had been on that bus or on the LRT at the time.
More specifically, what if the PWD was in a wheelchair and unable to stand?
I’ve asked this question many times to OC Transpo officials but have not received a clear answer.
Whenever I use the LRT, it pops into my head, especially when the train enters a tunnel.
Such examples of this would be St Laurent or perhaps Blair. I haven’t been to Blair for a very long time, but I do recall there being tiny, sketchy elevators and rolling through a maze to get to the Gloucester Centre.
So, if I’m having a hard time, how would a Para Transpo vehicle be able to reach me if I’m below street level?
Add on top of that, what happens if I or my PSW gets injured? I can’t answer that, but another PWD has also asked these questions.
After almost two years, we’re still waiting for an answer. If, by some chance, OC Transpo did answer it, I have no idea. If that’s the case, their response needs to be more publicized.
Another thought that enters my mind far too often is, why PWD aren’t mentioned when an OC Transpo bus or LRT breaks down?
Some of you may be thinking that there wasn’t a PWD onboard. I find that very hard to believe, considering the amount of PWD that are out and about. Let’s also consider the number of buses on the roads and the LRT system in general.
Are you telling me that there hasn’t been a single PWD onboard or stuck at a stop?
And what about all of the Para Transpo customers that have been in a vehicle or delayed due to a car (or several) breaking down?
I know for a fact that there have been many. I know several PWD that were in some way stranded by OC Transpo and Para Transpo. The sad thing is though, is that you rarely hear about them in the media. In most cases, the only way I find out is through Social Media or by actually talking to the person or persons involved.
Why is OC Transpo so hush-hush when it comes to people with disabilities. It’s as if PWD is a secret society like The Stone Cutters on The Simpsons.
We’re not a secret society.
PWD also pays to use public transportation. We should be included in any mention of OC Transpo in the media, including when a Para Transpo vehicle breaks down.
According to the OC Transpo website, Para Transpo is considered public transit.
People with disabilities ARE considered a part of the general population.
Why is this still an issue?
OC Transpo and the city need to do a better job of acknowledging people with disabilities.
Getting back to my original question.
If a person using a wheelchair or any mobility device is on an LRT and gets stuck in a tunnel, what is the official procedure for getting them out?
If any OC Transpo officials are reading this, please reach out to me, or better yet, let it be known in a public manner.
I’m not a hard person to find.