Orangeville Transit works to address accessibility issues: CAO

February 8, 2024   ·   0 Comments


Orangeville Transit has a distance to go in some respects to address accessibility issues.

Town council heard about some of those issues from members of the community during its regular meeting on Feb. 5.

Orangeville Transit will often avail of school buses when one of its public transit buses is taken off the road for repairs. Resident, James Jackson has a friend who uses a wheelchair.

Jackson’s friend recently tried to get to a doctor’s appointment by way of Orangeville Transit, he told council. But the school bus wasn’t suitable for her wheelchair.

“She can’t get to her doctor’s appointment,” Jackson said. “She went to try to get on one of the bus routes and it showed up with a school bus. The bus driver didn’t even look at her, didn’t even acknowledge her, or anything.”

Larger urban centres have Wheel-Trans conveyances on which people with wheelchairs can book trips.

Mayor Lisa Post asked Jackson to have his friend send an email to Tony Dulisse at Orangeville Transit with details about her experience with the bus service.

Post said there’s a program through Dufferin County that makes a Wheel-Trans available. And those rides are specifically for medical appointments, she said.

Resident David Vahey provided council with details of some personal observations about accessibility on local buses.

Two years ago, the Ontario Public Transit Association with various public transit providers launched a campaign that promoted accessibility. The campaign highlighted how some disabilities aren’t always visible and the importance of accepting service animals.

Vahey’s son Solomon is on the autism spectrum and has a service dog to assist him. Vahey said there have been issues in the past with Orangeville Transit and Solomon’s service animal.

“There is not even a $1 sticker saying that service dogs are welcome on transit,” he said.

Some downtown businesses have the stickers and are accommodating to people with service animals, he said.

“And, of course, we had the first-hand experience of issues with drivers not being very accessible when it came to my son to just take the bus home from school,” Vahey said.

And there’s no space for comments about Orangeville Transit buses on the accessibility customer service feedback form. It caters only to municipal facilities, he said.

“There’s no option at all in the accessibility on the town website,” Vahey said.

The County of Dufferin has an accessibility coordinator. But the Town of Orangeville does not.

David Smith, the town’s CAO, said he’s aware that Dulisse has been very active in addressing accessibility issues on the public bus service, and Vahey’s feedback was welcomed.

“We are continually trying to improve,” Smith said.

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