Transit service abides by boundary limits

A couple that lives on Rennison Road in Area C needs help from handyDART, but they live just beyond the pickup boundary of the transit service that accommodates people with cognitive and physical disabilities.

Jennifer Winter says her husband, Don Legg, 64, has undergone two emergency surgeries in recent weeks and is soon to be discharged from hospital.

“I have been trying to have systems in place because he will not be able to get around very well and doesn’t drive,” said Winter,

noting handyDART has used their driveway to turn around on at least one occasion. “I’m not asking them to go a mile out of the boundary, I’m asking them just to have a heart.”

Watson and Ash is contracted by the CVRD and BC Transit to operate the Comox Valley handyDART service. Owner Darren Richards said the couple lives beyond their pickup boundary.

“As far as the maps that we were given by the regional district where we’re supposed to operate within, it’s about four or five houses outside the boundary itself,” he said. “We have to follow the contract that’s given to us, and the boundaries that are given to us.

“We probably get four or five of these requests for handyDART service outside the boundaries every year,” he added.

Richards notes that a transit bus passes nearby the couple’s home, along Route 12 on the Old Island Highway.

“We only have so many hours of handyDART on the road. We have six darts on the road every day, and they are very busy.”

Michael Zbarsky, the CVRD’s transit manager, said he understands the frustrations of rural residents who live on the street where the boundary sits. But he said a limit of resources necessitates the boundaries.

“If we had unlimited resources, we would go everywhere,” he said. “To provide a decent level of handyDART service, we had to establish that operational boundary.”

The district is focussing on expanding the handyDART service to weekends.

“We’re adding weekend service starting September, which we don’t have right now,” Zbarsky said.

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