Bus accessibility for handicapped people
By Steven Cayer, Contributor
Hello students of Douglas College. My name is Steven Cayer, and I’m in a power chair.
I use transit to go everywhere. This has its benefits and drawbacks. One benefit of using transit is that it’s way cheaper than buying a car. You can then use that saved money for more important things, like tuition. Also, you can do anything while on transit, like read the newspaper or, more likely, use your cellphone. When there’s a long lineup for the bus, I’m happy if the driver doesn’t open the back doors until I’m on: if there are people in my area of the bus, nine times out of 10 they’ll move on their own. The last one out of 10 are either waiting to be run over by me, or waiting to be yelled at by the bus driver. I can’t help but smile when that happens.
What I’m trying to say is that transit in the Lower Mainland is relatively good. I say “relatively” because I haven’t told you about the drawbacks yet. I’ve used many different bus routes, and not every stop is accessible to me. I always think, “What if I need to get off at a stop that’s not accessible?” I’ve found out that while the bus drivers are required to pick me up from such a stop, they don’t have to drop me off there.
One example of this scenario was at Schoolhouse Street and Lougheed Highway. Last month, I was going to the Coquitlam movie theatre four days a week. That bus stop was not handicap-friendly. One day, the driver just kept driving past the Schoolhouse stop, all the way to the next accessible stop, King Edward Street. It took me 10 minutes to get to the theatre when normally it would take me four. I’m happy to say that the Schoolhouse bus stop is now handicap-friendly. All they needed to do was build an extra foot of sidewalk so there was enough room for chairs and strollers. I just wish every bus stop was accessible.
I love taking transit. I pretty much need to say that because it’s my only mode of transportation—unless I count having my mom drive me, but that doesn’t roll off my tongue as well. All in all, transit is probably the most important mode of transportation for me, and I don’t think I’m alone when I say that we need this system to be perfect. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great compared to most parts of the world, but it’s not perfect yet.