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Winnipeg Resource: Public Transit and VIRN 

Albert A Ruel, 55 mins, BrandonThanks to VIRN for working out this sort of respectfull access to public transit. 

On Aug 27, 2016, at 9:55 AM, Vic Pereira <vic.pereira@virn.ca> wrote:
Hello everyone

 

VIRN has reached another milestone in the realm of inclusion for our community. As a bit of background, in Winnipeg anyone who is eligible to use Handi-Transit services is able to right “regular” transit at no cost. This concession is offered to everyone with a disability not just those of us defined as legally blind.

 

As smart card technologies advanced VIRN worked with Transit to have us included as they moved forward to using these cards to replace conventional bus passes, tickets and paper transfers. Of course the fare boxes still accept cash.

 

Winnipeg Transit didn’t want to do away with concessions, because it is more economical for them to allow people with disabilities to use conventional transit instead of their parallel service. The fleet was replaced with easy access buses, operators are permitted to let people off between stops if it is safe to do so and providing a concession removes another barrier. Out of 6000 registered clients using Handi-Transit they estimate only 900 people are taking advantage of no charge public transit on the “regular” system. They would like to improve on these stats to reduce the burden on the parallel service.

 

After working and testing with Transit they have been able to issue PegGo cards that recognise the fact there are people eligible to have concessions. To avoid fraud, our cards have a photo, but since the readers detect the card regardless of how it is placed on the sensor it is possible to be discrete. Not a problem for me of course, because I use a guide dog or mobility cane. This is a significant step forward for those people in our community whose disability is not quite as obvious. Now they are no longer singled out, thus making some people feel less vulnerable.

 

Another advantage of Transit issuing smart cards to all of us is ridership data is now tracked. This means that city departments who are responsible to maintain sidewalks, streets, accessible pedestrian signals and other components of the city’s infrastructure can get reports from the system. They can then see what areas have the highest usage of people with disabilities. They can then prioritise work on snow removal, infrastructure repairs and updates to make getting from points A to B and all in between easier for more people. In addition there is no personal information visible on the PegGo cards. For people visiting Winnipeg Transit operators are very good about recognising guide dogs, mobility canes and other aids such as wheelchairs. For our community who have a significant amount of useable vision other cards are still recognised as well, but they are just shown to the operator.

 

It is a wonderful feeling to be included with the masses. No more listening to people asking why didn’t that person pay or having to engage in those types of conversations with people at transit stops who say how lucky we are being able to ride transit for free. And the list goes on. Although this might be seen as a small step or even an insignificant one by some people it is one that brings us a little closer as being seen as part of society. Winnipeg Transit is to be commended for not taking the easy route by offloading the granting of concessions. All of us working with VIRN are proud of this accomplishment.

 

Vic

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