Regarding accessible bus service
I am a handicapped senior who lives at Copper Ridge Place and relies heavily on the city bus system to get around.
On Aug. 28, I attended a back yard dinner downtown with a handful of close friends. I left the friendly gathering in plenty of time to catch the 9:20 bus back home. I waited and waited- 9:20 ,9:30, 9:40, 9:45. I knew the bus would not be this late. I checked my schedule which I had taken from the little rack on the bus a few weeks prior. There was no mention of an adjustment of schedule hours on Sundays. I checked the schedule posted at the bus stop where I waited (on Second Avenue across from A&W and Tim Hortons) and again no reference was posted regarding Sunday hours.
It then dawned on me that I had not seen any buses going in either direction the whole time that I had been there. By now it was dark and I was chilled and feeling vulnerable.
I called a cab company and requested a wheelchair accessible taxi and was told that the driver of that cab had gone home for the night. I tried two more cab companies only to be told by both that there was no wheelchair cab available.
I felt scared and helpless, envisioning spending the night in my chair downtown somewhere where homeless people stay overnight. I have no fiends who have the equipment to transport my 400 lb power chair.
I was reluctant to leave my chair for not only do I rely on it as my “legs” daily, but it it a very expensive unit; you could buy a new small car for the same price I paid for my wheelchair. I moved from the dark cold bus stop into the well lit, warm Tim Hortons across the street, feeling punished because I am wheelchair bound.
Any “normal” person would have no problem getting a taxi at 10 pm, but here I was stranded. I called the charge nurse of the unit where I live for suggestions as to how to get home.
In the end I had no choice but to call EMS non-urgent service. They could take me but not my chair.
The manager of Tim Hortons, Yasmine, deserves a huge bouquet of thanks. She ensured that I was safe and allowed my chair to be stored there under lock and key for the night. She stayed beyond the end of her shift to see me safely loaded into the ambulance, hovering like a mother hen.
As I lay on the stretcher the aurora displayed in green and pink, a beautiful sight that I have not witnessed for 14 years — the silver lining to my plight.
My chair was retrieved the next morning by Copper Ridge Place staff.
I do assume my part of responsibility in this affair; I did not properly research the Sunday bus hours of operation. However, I do believe that the bus system needs to post changes to schedule hours at every stop and certainly in the printed handouts. And the way that cab companies are able to discriminate against the disabled must be illegal! A wheelchair accessible van can also pick up other passengers, it need not be dedicated solely to the handicapped.
A big thank you to the EMS people who rescued me. My sincere apology for not offering to buy you a coffee and pastry.