The 23,000 people who depend on TransLink’s HandyDART transit service to get to medical appointments and for other trips will see a long-awaited increase in service, TransLink announced February 10.
TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said that his transit authority will increase service by adding capacity for 85,500 more trips this year to the 1.2 million current trips. In the three years ending in 2019, TransLink will add a total of 171,000 more trips, he said at a news conference at his company’s offices in Surrey.
“This is about mobility,” he said. “It's about people getting around. It’s about freedom.”
The HandyDART service is specifically for those who have physical or cognitive disabilities. Drivers come to the passengers' homes and help passengers board the vehicles.
The move to increase HandyDART service follows TransLink conducting an extensive review of how it runs the HandyDART system last year. That review included an investigation of whether to contract out the service among a range of alternatives.
HandyDART advocate and former Vancouver city councillor Tim Louis was at the news conference to praise the move for having HandyDART service improvements being faster than that of conventional public transit.
“Over the three-year Phase 1, HandyDART service levels will increase by half as much again as [service level increases for] conventional public transit,” he said. “That’s never happened before.”
Louis also praised TransLink for “front-loading” the service improvements so that the 15% increase over three years would not come in a series of 5% increase increments but rather with almost half of the total increase coming in the first year.