Elderly and Disabled Speak Out on Bus Route Changes

By JAMES CULIC, Ottawa Sun, April 8, 2011

Elderly and disabled OC Transpo riders visited city hall Friday to speak out on proposed changes to OC Transpo routes.

Frustrated riders attended a special meeting of the city’s accessibility advisory committee.

Leona Emberson, a partially-sighted transit user, explained that even minor changes create big problems for people with disabilities.

“Moving a bus stop a couple of blocks and asking people to change their routine, for an able-bodied person might seem insignificant, but will have a
huge impact on someone who is visually impaired,” said Emberson.

“Landmarks change for cane users, the tactile landmarks for guide-dogs change and they will need some re-training, if you have partial vision, the
landmarks you use will be different. It will alter every route that we have worked hard to learn.”

Pat Scrimgeour, manager of transit service design with OC Transpo said the city wants to hear all riders’ concerns.

“The proposed changes come after identifying areas of duplication and areas of low ridership,” said Scrimgeour.

City council asked for $20 million in savings from OC Transpo, and Scrimegeour said the changes are designed be as low impact as possible, with
the goal of having no more than an extra 800 metre, or 10-minute walk for customers.

The elderly have been another vocal opponent of route changes.

ACC committee member Elizabeth Griffis accused Scrimgeour of doing a “pathetic” job of accommodating the elderly with the proposed route changes.

In particular, committee members were concerned with changes to the number 85 bus route that currently takes people to the Saint-Vincent hospital.
Changes to that route will mean many riders will have to make two extra transfers to get to the hospital.

Scrimgeour explained that since the budget for this year has already been passed, many concerns will be addressed when next year’s budget is tabled.

Reproduced from http://www.ottawasun.com/news/ottawa/2011/04/08/17927536.html