For quite some time I have been having an on-going disagreement with DATS about them not being able or refusing to get me to medical appointments because the medical appointment locations are too close to my home. Over the years they have sited many reasons as to why they can’t accommodate a trip that is too close to my home.
If I remember correctly I was ignored for quite some time; this issue has been going on for so long it is hard for me to remember dates however after being ignored for a lengthy period of time I was told that DATS Policy states that a trip that is less than 500 meters will not be accommodated, then at some point I was told the policy was 300 meters, ultimately they decided that the distance restriction would be anywhere from 300-500 meters. At one point it was explained to me that the rational or reason for having a distance restriction is that they couldn’t justify the cost associated for such a short distance, understandable. However they don’t seem to have another option to offer clients. I took it upon myself to offer an alternative; I suggested that the trip be meter rated since the DATS sedan contractor is a taxi company (Prestige Taxi). That suggestion was quickly vetoed by DATS with no real explanation as to why they couldn’t meter rate a short trip, it makes sense to me that they would meter rate it if they are concerned about the cost (flat rate) being too expensive for such a short distance; it doesn’t escape me that the City of Edmonton negotiates these expensive contracts.
According to the September 2013 DATS Newsletter “In 2012, the average cost of a DATS trip was $29.73 (after fare recovery, $27.20)” DATS drivers are paid a flat rate fee at or near the amount quoted in the newsletter, I have not been able to confirm if these figures are what a contract driver gets paid or if the figures include some other cost associated with a trip. DATS drivers are paid a flat rate either directly from the City of Edmonton or as a sub–contractor. The DATS Drivers that drive the City Owned wheelchair buses are paid an hourly wage.
DATS eventually consented to provide me with transportation services to medical appointment in the winter and in inclement weather that were close to my home, but they didn’t say they would make it easy. DATS decided that I would need to call the same day for a booking instead of in advance when I need to get to the medical appointments. The disadvantage of calling for a same day request:
The request is not guaranteed, potentially having to cancel a medical appointment on the same day; and we all know doctors love it when patients do that.
The times you are assigned may not be what you require in order to get to an appointment on time.
The times you are assigned may not be what you require in order be picked up before the medical office closes for the day, leaving the client in inclement weather, cold or even in the dark depending on the time of day.
Or my all-time favourite; you are told that it isn’t raining at their office location therefore it couldn’t possibly be raining in another part of the City; this leaves me to believe that DATS doesn’t know what isolated or scattered showers are.
It is worth noting that the City of Edmonton doesn’t have an Accessibility Bylaw but they do have what they call a policy read it here: http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/C463.pdf
DATS does have a guide, a newsletter and a website; none of which give a clear indication of what DATS considers a trip to be too close to a client’s home. The DATS website, see it here http://www.edmonton.ca/transportation/ets/dats/riding-on-dats.aspx states that:
Trip booking requests for short travel distances may not be accommodated unless there is construction that interferes with pedestrian movement, no sidewalk in the area, or physical barriers that prevent pedestrian movement.
DATS does have a page parked on their website that has been designated as there Guide to DATS that page says Coming Soon. See it here http://www.edmonton.ca/transportation/ets/dats/a-guide-to-dats.aspx, if you dig deeper you will find the guide here: http://www.edmonton.ca/transportation/transit/Guide_to_DATS_2011.pdf as I said after reading the guide I couldn’t find any reference to distance restrictions. And to add insult to injury the program is called Disabled Adult Transportations Service however they do offer services to youth 13-15 years of age. There website says:
Service is available for youths between the ages of 13 and 15 years who cannot use regular transit service because of a physical or cognitive disability. Service is offered during off peak hours only (with or without an escort).
In part this issue could easily be dealt with if Bylaw Enforcement Officers were out in full force enforcing the Community Standards Bylaws that encompasses snow removal http://edmonton.ca/bylaws_licences/C14600.pdf Page 7 Section 7
A Bylaw Enforcement Officer will walk on a slippery, snow filled sidewalk to ticket an illegally parked vehicle but won’t write or warn the owner of the home or business associated with a snow removal Bylaw violation, priorities perhaps or maybe the City of Edmonton has more cash to gain by ticketing an illegally parked vehicle that it does to ticket snow removal violators, and that’s an issue for another day. The pictures I have attached are of my neighborhood and how difficult it is to navigate the snow filled sidewalks; to which I have called Bylaw Enforcement many times. And checkout the bus stop, we need to demand better from our tax dollars.