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Support Persons on Conventional and Specialized Transit

The first review of the AODA’s Transportation Standards became public in 2018. In this review, the AODA Transportation Standards Development Committee recommends changes to the existing Transportation Standards. In addition, the Committee also recommends action from other sectors of the province, to remove accessibility barriers that impact transportation. This article will discuss the Committee’s recommendations for passengers using support persons on conventional and specialized transit.

Support Persons on Conventional and Specialized Transit

Some passengers with disabilities travel on conventional transit or specialized transit with support persons, who assist with:

  • Communication
  • Mobility
  • Accessibility
  • Daily living needs
  • Medical care

A support person can be a paid personal support worker (PSW), a volunteer, a family member, or a friend.

In contrast, other people with disabilities may be able to travel alone but may sometimes travel with companions. A companion sometimes chooses to do one or two of the things a support person does. This overlap means that it can be hard for the public to tell the difference between support persons and companions.

However, transit providers make clear distinctions between the two groups. For example, under the Transportation Standards, transit providers cannot charge fares to support persons. Therefore, passengers who need a support person when travelling must demonstrate this need to the provider. Each provider must create its own criteria for how a passenger must prove their need for a support person. 

As a result, the Committee recommends that the provincial government should consider producing identification cards for people who must prove their need for support persons. People could present this card not only to any provincial transit provider, but any other organization requesting such proof. One single, provincially-issued identification card would remove the need for each organization to develop its own criteria of proof. Likewise, one card would simplify the process of proof for people who must disclose their disabilities and their support needs frequently.

The government may take some time to research the need for, and then produce, this form of identification. Therefore, the Committee recommends continuing education for passengers and transit providers about requesting and providing proof of need for support persons on conventional and specialized transit.