The Transportation Standard of the AODA has numerous rules mandating how specialized transportation providers must operate. Many of these rules play an important role in ensuring that travellers with disabilities have equal opportunities to move around their communities. However, in practice, some specialized transportation providers are unable to obey a few of the transportation standard’s regulations. Increased demand for specialized transit makes it more difficult for providers to follow the standard’s guidelines regarding bookings and hours of service.
The transportation standard states that providers must allow passengers to book rides on the day of travel whenever possible, or up to three hours before the end of the company’s hours of operation on the day before the day of travel. This regulation recognizes that people sometimes need to take spontaneous trips as well as planned ones. However, several providers require people to book at least three days in advance. In first-come-first-served booking systems, the routes for most busses on a given day are arranged within hours. As a result, people booking rides the day they need them do not get them.
Hours of Service
Specialized transportation providers are required to offer the same hours and days of service as local conventional transportation providers. This requirement ensures that people who always use specialized transit can travel during all the days and times that people using conventional transit can travel on. Providers try to obey this requirement by being open late into the evening. However, they often have fewer vehicles operating during evening hours. As a result, people taking trips in the evenings may be unable to book rides home.
Accessibility is for Everyone
Increased demand for specialized transit will continue. As the Ontario population ages, more and more people will need this service. They will need providers that can obey the transportation standard, a valuable element of the AODA. Adequate funding for more vehicles and more drivers will help to make transportation providers better able to uphold this portion of the Standard.