The B.C. government is providing more funding to BC Transit to significantly increase handyDART service hours in Kamloops, benefitting persons with disabilities and seniors.
Kamloops will receive an extra 2,000 hours of handyDART service annually. Throughout B.C., the provincial funding lift of $12.7 million over three years will go toward increasing transit services, with a focus on expanded door-to-door handyDART services in targeted communities, adding an extra 8,000 hours of handyDART services each year.
“This investment will go a long way to reduce the number of trip denials and boost handyDART service for those with disabilities, those with mobility issues, as well as seniors who use handyDART transport services,” said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “We are always working with BC Transit and local communities to find ways to increase and enhance services, and we are pleased to expand handyDART services, starting first in Kamloops.”
The provincial government has increased funding for BC Transit by $12.7 million and will now be providing $324 million in operating contributions over the next three years. Kamloops is the first B.C. community to sign on for the expansion in handyDART services. BC Transit is also having discussions with other communities throughout B.C. to consider expanding handyDART services.
“The expanded handyDART service hours in Kamloops will help those who are unable to use conventional transit to get around town, to connect with family members, friends, health care appointments, and community activities,” said Health Minister and MLA for Kamloops-North Thomson Terry Lake. “This is good news for those with mobility challenges and for seniors in our community.”
This investment aligns with Accessibility 2024 – the B.C. government’s 10-year action plan unveiled in 2014 which lists cross-government commitments that will help improve accessibility in B.C. for people with disabilities. Accessibility 2024 lays the roadmap for making B.C. the most progressive province in Canada for people with disabilities by 2024.
“As a longtime community advocate for persons with disabilities, I know how important handyDART services are for helping people of all ages get to their destinations, to retain independence and freedom in their daily lives,” said Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation. “This funding lift and increase in handyDART service hours ties in with our commitment to reduce barriers while increasing accessibility for people living with disabilities.”
“We’re very pleased with the additional service hours being added in Kamloops,” said Kamloops mayor and director, BC Transit Board of Directors Peter Milobar. “As a community, we are committed to removing barriers that prevent our residents from enjoying all the great things our city has to offer, and this funding contribution is a huge step towards that.”
“handyDART is an important part of our overall service strategy as it supports independence for people and keeps them connected to their community,” said Manuel Achadinha, president and CEO of BC Transit. “These additional funds will allow us to expand services to meet the needs of customers across the province.”
Many senior citizens who have mobility issues use handyDART, and this investment will provide more service hours for them, to better integrate them with their community, and help them stay connected with family and friends.
“handyDART is used by over 60,000 seniors in B.C.,” said seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie. “The increased frequency and reach this funding will allow is something seniors have been asking for.”
handyDART is an accessible, door-to-door transit service for people with permanent or temporary disabilities that prevent them from using fixed-route transit. The driver of the fully accessible handyDART vehicle picks the customer up at their home and takes them right to the door of their destination.