Carol Franklin was born in Revelstoke, but now lives in Vancouver. She gets to come home once a year to visit family, such as her brother who is in hospital. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

‘I’ve been left in the rain’: disabled woman said Revelstoke bus routinely left her

Carol Franklin is from Revelstoke but lives in Vancouver. She comes to visit family periodically

Carol Franklin said she has been left, forgotten and ignored by a Revelstoke transportation company.

The bus service, handyDART is for people with disabilities that prevent them from using fixed-route transit. According to its website, it picks the passenger up and drops them off at their destinations.

Franklin said she would book and wait, sometimes in the rain, for a bus that never came.

“It was awful,” she said.

When handyDART would not show up to Franklin’s booked appointment, she would drive her scooter to the hospital to visit her brother. She said going uphill is very difficult as she has muscular dystrophy. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

While handyDART is part of BC Transit, the service is contracted out to a private business.

On April 1, Revelstoke Connection Ltd. took over the contract from Lyndon Enterprises. Revelstoke Connection Ltd. is managed by Everything Revelstoke.

READ MORE: BC Transit contract awarded to Revelstoke Connection

Franklin grew up in Revelstoke but now lives in Vancouver.

She visited family in Revelstoke last month.

Her brother, who lives in Golden, drove to Vancouver to pick her up.

On previous visits to Revelstoke, when handyDART was operated by Lyndon Enterprises, Franklin said she never had problems.

Franklin has muscular dystrophy, which causes progressive muscle loss. There’s no cure.

Each time the handyDART failed to arrive, Franklin said she would drive her scooter to the hospital to visit her other brother, who has a more advanced stage of muscular dystrophy.

However, driving the scooter uphill to the hospital is difficult, Franklin said.

“And the more I use my muscles, the quicker I’ll die.”

She also has a broken leg from falling off her scooter several months ago.

When handyDART did appear, Franklin said they told her there were problems.

First, they do not take three-wheel scooters and second, there are problems with seat belts.

Franklin said she takes HandyDART in Vancouver, which is a separate organization operated by TransLink, without problems.

Black Press waited with Franklin to see if the handyDART bus would show up for her booked appointment on her last last day in Revelstoke. It did, but Franklin said it did not take her home afterwards. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Black Press called handyDART in Kelowna, which is also part of BC Transit like Revelstoke and was told they take three wheel scooters.

One time, Franklin said as she waited in Revelstoke, the bus drove past.

“The driver did not even look at me.”

During this visit, Franklin said she tried ordering a bus three times each week. On her last day, the handyDART appeared, 15 minutes early.

They tied a bright yellow seat belt around the scooter and took her to see her brother.

Franklin said it was the only time this visit she successfully took the handyDART.

After the visit, Franklin said she waited for handyDART and when it did not appear, she phoned.

Franklin said they hung up. So, she scootered home.

Franklin said she understands handyDART has rules to follow but said the way she was treated made her feel like she did not matter.

“I thought their job was to help.”

Black Press reached out to Revelstoke Connection Ltd. but was referred to BC Transit.

BC Transit would not comment on this story but noted that Franklin has filed a complaint.

Beth McKellar, from HandyDART Rider’s Alliance in Vancouver, which advocates for better disabled transportation services, said there has been a decline in service since 1999 when private enterprises took over in Vancouver.

READ MORE: HandyDart users concerned about wait times and ride availability: seniors’ report

“Bottom line is money,” she said. “People don’t matter.”

According to the alliance’s website, trip denials for the disabled has gone up over 600 per cent since 1999 in Vancouver.

Jonathon Dyck, communication manager for BC Transit, said there have been private operators in Revelstoke since a transit system was created in 1995.

He continued that private operators provide the best value for taxpayers and allow more transit systems provincewide.


 

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liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

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