Friday, January 25, 2013

Transportation Impossibility in Toronto

On January 24th 2013 I was in Toronto and I took Wheel-Trans to appointment in North York. I couldn't get a Wheel-Trans back downtown after the appointment was over though.  For this reason I phoned around to a few taxi companies and pre-booked a ride with Beck Taxi. 

I asked for the wheelchair accessible service, was told I would get it, was given a booking time, and was told the cost of the trip from my appointment at 4646 Dufferin to the Downsview Subway Station would be $11.00 (give or take depending on what showed on the meter).

What I got was a non-accessible car.  The electric wheelchair had no hope of fitting into it. The driver had no idea a wheelchair accessible taxi had been requested. He got on the radio and tried to do his best to accommodate me, but it wasn't working out too well. He informed me that it would be a long wait. 

I decided, forget it, and I wheeled to the bus stop. The first bus that came along had a frozen ramp so I was left behind. The temperature outside was -11 C.

I phoned Beck taxi back and asked what happened. They didn't know, but they were eventually able to send an accessible taxi.

After I got in it, and we were en route to the subway station, I asked the driver where the meter was. He informed me that they don't have one; that wheelchair accessible trips were automatically charged a minimum of $30 (more if it was a long trip).

I can't afford it so I told the driver this.  He did a U-Turn right in the middle of Dufferin St., a very busy 4-lane road, and took me back to the clinic where I'd been picked up.

I was really stranded. Wheel-Trans couldn't rescue me, so the only remaining choice was to wheel back to the bus stop and pray.

Thankfully the next bus had a working ramp and I was able to catch it.

The driver not only had working equipment, but he took the time to tie-down the wheelchair to guarantee my safety. He was so nice and so accommodating that I took down his bus number, and the approximate time for the trip, and wrote a letter of kudos to the TTC.

I've already received a response back, thanking me for the letter and assuring me that appropriate accolades would be given to his supervisor and also added to his employee record. 

Thank God something turned out right. The rest of it, with the taxis and the other bus ramp not working, was a real nightmare. In that cold, being stranded outside with no alternative affordable means of transportation to leave, was downright dangerous.

I wonder how many able-bodied people would put up with this number of roadblocks to just trying to get around?

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