Delegate calls for convenient Sunday bus service in Whitehorse – Yukon News
A local resident calls for improvements to the city of Whitehorse’s convenient bus service.
The service provides on-demand transportation for those who cannot use the standard transit system. Although the city provides the service, it is funded through an agreement with the Government of Yukon.
At the Whitehorse city council meeting on October 4, Matthew Lien addressed the council, recalling his mother’s recent 90th birthday when she was unable to use the service to get to her birthday.
As Lien told the town, her mother is in a wheelchair and her birthday celebration was scheduled at a friend’s more accessible house. Sunday was the only possible day for the event with a family in town briefly for their birthday.
Contacting the city to book the convenient bus, Lien soon learned that the service was not running on Sundays. He was advised that taxis are required to provide an accessible van service as a backup when the convenient bus is not available, as in this case.
Two days before the party, he called a number of taxi companies to make arrangements.
“At first, they weren’t all sure if they could provide a wheelchair service, or outright declared their inability to provide the service,” Lien said.
“Two of these companies said they needed a manager to call me back, which didn’t happen. When I called back they again said someone would call back. When I received the reminders, one manager said he couldn’t provide the service, and the other said he couldn’t provide the service until the following week.
When Lien took to social media, he learned that such situations are not uncommon in the city. Many noted that only one company provides the service, but there was again confusion about booking with that company and it was only through his social media contacts that Lien was able to find someone. ‘one who had his own wheelchair accessible van and helped him out.
Lien argued that the situation is one that impacts the entire community.
“I am not raising this issue out of concern for my mother,” he said. “I don’t plan on taking her out often because it’s quite exhausting for her. But as a member of our community of Whitehorse, I am appalled by this situation and consider it to be a crisis requiring immediate attention.
He argued that the fastest solution would be to provide convenient bus service seven days a week, suggesting that Sunday service could perhaps be on hold.
He noted that he had also contacted the city’s bylaws department, the Government of Yukon and outgoing Yukon MP Larry Bagnell about this.
While the board had no follow-up questions for Lien after his presentation, later in the meeting, members raised the issue with administration.
Acting City Manager Jeff O’Farrell and City Manager Doug Spencer have confirmed that city taxi companies are required to have an accessible vehicle for rent (those who don’t have one can work with another company to provide the service) with ongoing priority service to those requiring accessible transportation. Spencer said there are currently three accessible taxis in town.
Spencer then informed the board that a follow-up investigation into Lien’s situation has fined three companies a total of $ 750 each for failing to provide the required priority service and failing to provide the accessible vehicle rental service.
“The regulations take this seriously,” Spencer said.
Mike Gau, the city’s director of development services, also noted that the city is currently in negotiations with the Yukon government on the next deal for convenient bus services. He said there were preliminary discussions on the possibility of a Sunday service, although it depends on the budget.
Informed of the discussion, Lien said he was happy to hear that discussions were underway and that he would encourage others to contact their MPs and show their support for funding the Sunday service.
“This is very good news,” he said.
Contact Stéphanie Waddell at [email protected]