More let-downs today for people with disabilities in the Lower Mainland.
Last month on this show we told that TransLink, starting April 4th would be closing fare gates and they’d have that project completed by the 8th.
The problem was that there was no system put in place to help those with disabilities who cannot help themselves.
We found that out because of a pointed question from CKNW Journalist Janet Brown who quizzed the TransLink dummies at their March press conference.
Jennifer Moreland, one of their spokespeople, claimed that those needing access could quite simply pick up a nearby attendant phone and request a gate to be opened, to which Janet quickly quipped “And if they can’t use their hands?”
That exchange, and the subsequent media coverage of such an idiotic decision forced the minister in charge of TransLink Peter Fassbender to essentially read the riot act to the transit authority saying those gates will not be closed until a suitable system was in place for helping people with disabilities.
Within a week TransLink had come up with what they called a temporary system in which an attendant would man every SkyTrain entrance and exit during peak times to make sure people could get through, and if they weren’t there one of the accessible gates would remain open at all times.
Well, we’re not even a week into the gates been fully closed and we’re already hearing stories of people getting screwed over by the system. Again.
Luke Galvani a regular transit uses relies on those TransLink staff that were promised at the fare gates to help him through, but yesterday at Burrard station he says he was…
“Locked out, and after 10 or 15 minutes one of these so-called attendants came up the stairs and he didn’t even notice me and he walked away.”
Galvani says it isn’t just him others have told him they too are being discriminated against.
“People with disabilities are late for work, late for meetings, late for everything because they simply can’t access the transit system on their own.”
And this not even a week into TransLink’s new plan.
I am struggling to understand how this is not a priority focus for Kevin Desmond the new TransLink CEO.
The fare gates closed permanently on the 8th, and there are already screw ups happening along the system.
Those of us that are able bodied pretty much can side step any of the issues that are happening at SkyTrain stations.
Currently there’s a multitude of broken escalators, no problem we can use the stairs. But consider the people with mobility issues. Without the elevator, they’re screwed if the escalator is out.
Then, what if the elevator is out? Oh easy, we just use the stairs again, for those in wheel chairs though, that’s the only way for them to get to the platform for their trains
Then throw into the mix the fact that sometimes those with even more severe mobility issues like Luke don’t end up get screwed over once, but possibly multiple times for one journey.
Why? Because years ago when it decided on Compass, TransLink never bothered to think about how they would make the system accessible for those with disabilities.
The goal back then should have been to make sure the system we install would be a system that everyone can use with independence. But what we ended up with was a half-assed approach with no end goal, and them a bad-aid fix on the day to a solution that easily could have been fixed years ago.
And now we’ve come full circle. The reason to install the fare gates was to crack down on fare evasion, because why would you pay people a salary to check tickets at gates when you can install a computer system that will do the same job saving millions?
Well, you’ve over spent by tens of millions, the system has major flaws, it can also be hacked so people can ride it for free, in the last 2 weeks the system froze with the gates closed trapping people for a number of minutes inside some stations, and now because of TransLink’s lack of disability planning we are back to where we began: an attendant at every gate.
Luke Galvani told CKNW that TransLink needs to bring the disabled community to the table and work out a long term fare gate accessibility fix.
No kidding, I heard they consulted disability groups a few years back, but it looks like they just ignored any advice that was offered, because once again, TransLink has screwed up, and there doesn’t seem to be much accountability.