Kelowna will see expanded handyDART service hours that will benefit seniors and persons with disabilities, thanks to a funding lift by the province and the City of Kelowna.
Kelowna residents will benefit by an extra 2,000 handyDART service hours starting in September. The City of Kelowna is working toward further expanding this service with an additional 1,500 service hours pending budget approval in December.
“As the population increases in both size and age, the services peopledepend on have to grow with them,” said B.C. Premier Christy Clark. “With an extra 2,000 hours of handyDART service and more to come, we’re ensuring all residents of Kelowna are able to get around town.”
Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, pointed out that an additional 2,000 hours of handyDART service starting this year alone demonstrates just how much Kelowna values the importance of this service to people who cannot use conventional transit.
“We’re providing more funding to BC Transit to help reduce the number of trip denials and increase the number of handyDART service hours,” said Stone. “We have made working with BC Transit and local communities a high priority to ensure that people are getting the transit services they need to get around town, including handyDART.”
Kelowna is the fourth B.C. community to cost share with the province this year for expanded handyDART services. Many senior citizens in Kelowna rely on the handyDART to get around to medical appointments, do their shopping and visit with friends and relatives. This investment will provide more service so they can continue to participate in their day to day activities in the community.
“By signing on for expanded handyDART services, residents of Kelowna will have better access to the services they need every day,” said Kelowna mayor Colin Basran. “By expanding transit services in Kelowna including the handyDART, we are providing a better quality of life for people with mobility issues.”
The province has increased funding for BC Transit by $12.7 million and will now be providing $324 million in operating contributions over the next three years. This funding will help municipalities across B.C. increase their transit services, including expanding door-to-door handyDART services in targeted communities, adding an extra 8,000 hours of handyDART services each year.
This investment aligns with Accessibility 2024 – the B.C. government’s,10-year action plan unveiled in 2014 which lists cross-government commitments that will help improve accessibility in B.C. for people with disabilities.
HandyDART is an accessible, door-to-door transit service for people with permanent or temporary disabilities that prevent them from using fixed-route transit. The driver of the fully accessible handyDART vehicle picks the customer up at their home and takes them right to the door of their destination.