Over the course of the 2010 Mayoral Election campaign, Public Transit in Ottawa will be sitting down with as many mayoral candidates as are available, discussing their platforms and thoughts on transit in this city, and what they hope to achieve during their mandate, if elected mayor.
Those who don't use ParaTranspo are prone to forgetting about it, but it is a social service that contributes to the accessibility of the City of Ottawa. Alex Cullen feels that, as a result of being so easily forgotten by those who don't regular use it, ParaTranspo has become the "neglected child in the transit family", and would make it a priority to assess the service--particularly with new legislation about accessibility apparently in the works.
There is new accessibility legislation around, an expectation that people with mental disabilities have as much right to Paratranspo as people with physical disabilities, we have an aging population--which may be more active, but the numbers of folks who incur a disability with age will increase; it will proportionally fall, but the numbers will increase--so I see a need to look at ParaTranspo, see how it's fitting today's needs, and what we should be doing to anticipate tomorrow's needs.
Part of Cullen's motivation for the review is to bring the utility in line with those new regulations, but he's also concerned with the frustration of ParaTranspo clients.
We have avoided, so far, a human rights challenge on mental disability, but that’s going to have to be part of the debate as well. We have a population that is getting more and more frustrated because of the constraints there, it has not increased in scope for some time. And, quite frankly, it’s very expensive; a bus ride costs between $2.50, $3, but Paratranspo is about $28 a ride. So we have to look at that very carefully. We’ve got a clientele that’s getting increasingly frustrated, we have pressure from accessibility legislation, and we have the cost of Paratranspo. The whole principle behind ParaTranspo is to enable those who cannot use our current public transit system an alternate means of participating in our society. I think that principle is very important, but it’s time to look at how well we do it, and what does it need to better meet our communities needs.