Users of Niagara's Specialized Transit speak out against negative changes

Users of Niagara's Specialized Transit service are speaking out about changes negatively impacting their lives.

Rhys Evans told the Public Health and Services Committee he has been forced to arrange alternate transportation over the last three weeks due to sudden unexpected changes.

He says he is in danger of missing medical appointments, school, and work obligations because of the frequent lateness of transit.

"We need people supporting us to help us become independent. The way the services is being run right now, you are robbing me and thousands of others of their independence."

Marlene Goodfield also uses the service. She says she has been having problems with the service for some time - in particular drivers failing to stick to the agreed upon times. She says recently the service has been calling to inform her they cannot accommodate some of her medical trips.

"It's devastating really. I need to go to my doctor because of an illness that I have right now, but I know I won't be able to get a ride. My sister broke a tooth, called to get a ride to her dentist yesterday and they told her there was nothing available for two weeks. So here we are stuck, physically ill, needing to go to the doctor and not having a ride available."

Specialized Transit in Niagara is contracted out to The BTS Network out of Vaughn. They say due to an overwhelming ridership demand, the budget for specialized transit has been overshot by  $400,000.

The Public Health and Services Committee unanimously approved a motion to direct staff to consult with users to develop performance measures for the system and bring the matter before the Regional Accessibility Advisory Committee.