HandyDart is a very useful system that helps those with mobility issues to travel about the City of Vancouver. I use it regularly for my scheduled hospital visits, and I have found the employees of the system — most especially the drivers — to be generally courteous, helpful and above all caring to the folks who use the system. However, for poor seniors it can be an expensive option.
Each one-way trip is $3:00, and so a return trip to the hospital costs $6.00. That may not sound like much but if you have two hospital trips a week, for dialysis say, and use the service to go shopping or to a seniors’ activity centre on another day, that comes to more than $70 a month — a fortune for many of us on low fixed-income pensions.
This problem could be solved if we could use our BC Provincial Bus Pass, but that is not allowed on HandyDart — and that needs to change.
In order to qualify for a BC Provincial Bus Pass, you must meet one of the following conditions:
- 60 years or older and the spouse of a person with the Person with Disabilities designation and are receiving disability assistance from the Province of British Columbia
- 60 years or older and receiving income assistance from the Province of British Columbia
- 60 years or older, living on a First Nations reserve and getting assistance from the band office
- 65 years or older and would qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) but does not meet the Canadian 10-year residency rule
- Receiving Old Age Security (OAS) and the GIS
In other words, to get a Pass you need to be a senior in poverty. To qualify to use HandyDart you must “have a physical, sensory, or cognitive disability and are unable to use conventional public transit without assistance” and get an accepted medical referral stating that disability.
Therefore, disallowing the use of the Bus Pass on HandyDart deliberately penalises disabled seniors in poverty.
I don’t know how many Vancouver residents qualify for both the Bus Pass and HandyDart, but it will not be a huge number; and the cost to the BC Treasury of changing the rules would be less than a drop in the bucket of the BC budget while significantly improving the lives of our most needy.