Saturday , 3 June 2023
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DARTS under scrutiny…again

With an ever aging population Hamilton is trying to increase the efficiency of its accessible transit system, which has been contracted to DARTS for decades. The city has conducted innumerable studies into disabled transit in an attempt to get some control over costs. One of the biggest problems for disabled transit is budgeting, because it is very difficult to forecast when people reach a point where they require the service. Another challenge is that the user fee cannot exceed the price for public transit, according to provincial regulations.

In a recent report to council staff reported that there are about 17,000 people registered to use DARTS, of which approximately half use the service. DARTS provides just under 800,000 trips per year which works out to 87 trips per user. The 2023 budget for accessible Transit is  $22.5 Million.

The report says measures are underway to better determining who should be eligible for the service. The city has been trying to encourage persons with lesser degrees of mobility impairment to use the HSR, which over the years has become better equipped  to handle wheelchairs and walkers, with ramps and “kneeling” buses.

In the most recent development the city has hired Bayshore Healthcare, who offer a wide variety of senior services to conduct evaluations to determine eligibility for service. There has never been a complete audit of the eligibility of the DARTS population. Eligibility is determined mainly by paper reporting and the recommendation of a health care professional.

Work also needs to be done to deal with no-shows and last minute cancellations, where scheduled appointments are cancelled without notice, resulting in wasted resources and delays to other passengers. The consultant recommends data be collected to pinpoint repeat offenders.

A consultant report recommended that DARTS continue to increase the use of a taxi scrip program, but that ran into snags when an auditor’s report uncovered fraud in the issuing of chits. There were further complications when a safety audit was conducted on both DARTS-owned but also third-party contracted vehicles that found numerous safety violations. The audit uncovered one instance where the third-party contractor was signing his own safety certificates.

In its earlier years DARTS relied almost exclusively on its own fleet of larger vehicles which could transport several wheelchair passengers. Over time, in part because of lobbying by the local taxi industry but also for greater flexibility, the trend shifted to more use of contracted vehicles and taxis. When the pandemic hit, there was virtually no DARTS service and the contractors were without revenue for the duration. It was on the resumption of DARTS service that the neglected safety issues were seen.

%s Comment

  • If your going to do a story do the WHOLE story, not half trues. Darts Drivers worked All through the pandemic, also did meals on wheels and PICKED UP HSR wheelchair people because HSR REFUSED TO HELP THEM!!! Maybe you should look into HSR. They NEVER help the disable. They Don’t hook up the wheelchairs. They Don’t use their 4 ways when they stop. They run red lights cut people off. They show very little respect for any elderly or disable!!!

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