Change in HandyDART Service Provider Announced by TransLink

On Friday, December 8th, it was announced that TransLink has selected a new provider to oversee its HandyDART services. As most of you know, HandyDART is a door-to-door, shared ride service for passengers with physical or cognitive disabilities who are unable to use conventional public transit without assistance. Since 2009, MVT Canadian Bus Inc. has been the HandyDART service provider, who has a central customer service team that is available 18 hours a day and operates over 300 buses.

TransLink has now said that they are changing their provider and TransLink won\’t be taking control of the operation. First Canada has been chosen to be the new service provider. First Canada currently operates HandyDART services for BC Transit in Victoria and the Okanagan. The decision is subject to approval by the TransLink board of directors at its meeting on  December 14th.

The company submitted the lowest bid by a \”fairly significant\” amount, according to TransLink, but CEO Kevin Desmond says that won\’t mean a reduction in quality. He reinforced that he is confident that First Canada can provide an efficient, lower cost service, enabling TransLink to return those savings to improve their overall packages of services for people with disabilities.

However, TransLink\’s decision disappointed the HandyDART Riders Alliance, a group that lobbies for better transit service for passengers with mobility issues. The group was hoping that TransLink would take over its operations. It also wanted contracting out to end, saying such a move would improve service.

Based on the information available, Community Ventures Society (CVS) is concerned about how the change of operators will impact its members and anyone else who relies on HandyDART services to get around Metro Vancouver. It is concerning to hear that TransLink has opted for the lowest bid, that it is placing profit first and we worry what impact this will have on what we see as an already less than optimal service.

If this decision is approved and moves forward, CVS hopes that any concerns voiced to TransLink will be taken seriously when transitioning HandyDART services to First Canada. So many people in our community rely on HandyDART and it is imperative that its service only improves to help meet the needs of the members in our community.