Lake Country transit service questioned

Council debates the future of handyDART in the community

  • Jun. 29, 2016 10:00 a.m.

The District of Lake Country will have to get help from Kelowna, if it hopes to get improvements to its maligned handyDart service.

Lake Country Coun. Bill Scarrow said the service contract for handyDART in Lake Country is between B.C. Transit and the City of Kelowna.

“If we want our handyDART services improved we have to apply to the City of Kelowna,” said Scarrow, who is also a bus driver for B.C. Transit.

“We make the application to the City of Kelowna and they would forward it through to transit.”

The handyDART services in Lake Country are leaving patients with a lot to question. Council heard stories of some patients being driven to hospital in the morning for an appointment only to be left waiting for a ride home for eight hours.

“This is a big issue for those people that rely on this service,” said Coun. Penny Gambell. “I can’t imagine being brought into town and being left the whole day. It’s not appropriate.”

Improvements to the handyDART service have been brought to Lake Country council’s attention before, as the service is seen as needing major improvements.

But Scarrow wasn’t confident changes would be made to the service agreement.

“Neither one (Kelowna, B.C. Transit) seem very interested in changing the agreement they have so we’re going to have to live with this for awhile. I don’t see any way around it’,” he said.

Scarrow did say he was planning to bring an official Notice of Motion before council aimed at applying to the City of Kelowna to look into the service agreement for handyDART.

An accessible, door-to-door shared transit service for people with permanent or temporary disabilities, handyDART helps users that cannot get to a dedicated bus stop, picking them up at their door and dropping them off at their destination.

Mayor James Baker said there is a compelling case for improving the service.

“Our Access and Age Friendly committee has stats that show we could use more handyDARTs,” said Baker.

“I don’t know what the solution looks like,” summarized Scarrow. “I don’t know if we need more service, double the service or something completely different, but I do know what we have isn’t working.”