The family of former HandyDart driver Richard Morrison – now a client – meets with Man in Motion Rick Hansen.

The family of former HandyDart driver Richard Morrison – now a client – meets with Man in Motion Rick Hansen.

Left stranded in our wheelchairs

Editor:

Re: HandyDart riders feel left behind, June 13.

Editor:

Re: HandyDart riders feel left behind, June 13.

This letter is being written as a plea to TransLink and HandyDart to reconsider their plan to contract service to taxis and lay off some drivers.

I am in a position to understand this situation from two sides – first, as a HandyDart driver, and now as a client.

For seven years, I proudly worked beside co-workers and managers in an effort to provide transportation services to those in need. I know these people and know they do their jobs with the clients’ best interests in mind.

Now, after an accident last year that left me paralyzed, I am an aforementioned client.

I understand the seven-day reservation period. I also understand the need to occasionally call for a wheelchair taxi, when a Dart is unavailable. Often a person doesn’t know seven days in advance what they are going to be doing. When this happens and we are unable to get a ride through HandyDart, we need to call a taxi.

I personally have been in this situation, more than once.

One example, I was still staying at G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre, but was home for the afternoon for my wife’s birthday. We decided to go out for lunch, with my return ride to hospital scheduled for 7 p.m. After lunch, I called for a wheelchair taxi and was told there are few wheelchair taxis available in the Langley/White Rock area. As we waited at the restaurant for 3½ hours for a taxi to take us back to our home, I started needing medical attention required back at G.F. Strong. I did not know if I would make it in time for my ride back.

As there are so few wheelchair taxis in this area – and now to be used more often by HandyDart – those clients needing one for emergencies will simply be out of luck.

I implore TransLink to reconsider this plan and hire more drivers, as the service is still so desperately needed.

Richard Morrison, Surrey