I have been using the Disabled Adult Transportation Service since approximately 1984. Since that time the program has gone through many changes, some good; some not so good. I have always felt it is my right and my obligation to communicate with DATS about any concerns I have and also offer suggestions to improve the program.
When I have a concern or suggestion I email DATS and copy the Mayor and all City Council along with 311 Edmonton and the Advisory Board on Service for Persons with Disabilities. My thought is that the Mayor and City Council should know what is going on with a specific City Program so that they too can intervene and make positive changes.
My understanding is that 311 Edmonton and the ABSPD keep track of concerns pertaining to DATS and intervene in order to make positive changes to the program as well.
Well that is what I thought until yesterday and the emails I received from a Member of Council and 311 Edmonton.
First came the email from the Councillor (a Rookie) who will remain nameless because he may want to reconsider after viewing this blog post, keeping in mind that his emails where sent on a Friday Evening, his email read:
“Please do as you wish, however, you would likely have a better outcome if you just sent these emails to your ward councillor to look into”
Then I received something that resembles a retraction:
“I neglected to mention that I would be happy to have a phone call to discuss your general displeasure with the DATS service. “
Meanwhile on the same day 311 Edmonton sent me the following email:
Thank you for your email dated April 24, 2014.
Unfortunately we do not take complaints for DATS. Please email them at email@example.com or call them at 780-496-4567.
If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to email us back.
Both emails seem to contradict what they are trying to express.
I believe the problem is nobody knows what to do about the DATS Program. Everybody knows there are issues that need to be addressed and remedied with the program however no one seems to have the political will; or dare I say energy. The DATS program is a very expensive program and the City of Edmonton keeps throwing more money at it in the hopes that the issues will be resolved.
The program at its core is run poorly, is punitive and needs to be scrapped and revamped to reflect today’s realities for people with disabilities; it is a program that seems to always be in its infancy; the staff are part of the problem, the staff will never suggest what they know would be solutions because they know that would involve them losing there jobs and some have been with the program for many decades..
Today people with disabilities are more involved in their community; they work, have responsibilities and have families and they deserve a transportation service that can assist them to be involved in their community and work. Any work initiative program that the Provincial or Federal Governments create will fail if a person with a disability doesn’t have reliable transportation.
My solution is to revamp the program and give the responsibility to the current contractor, have a management section with a few staff members within ETS and frankly get rid of the heavily staffed DATS office.
I am currently doing research to present to the City of Edmonton and the public; a plan that would see the City of Edmonton potentially save Millions of Dollars. I will add this plan to my blog when I have completed my research.