My Experience With Accessible Transportation Services
There is an accessible transportation service in Ontario called TransHelp. Many disabled and elderly people use it. For a reduced fair, eligible people can receive personalized door-to-door transportation.
As someone with AxSpA who experiences debilitating chronic pain and fatigue, this service seemed perfect for me. Eligible people must complete the necessary paperwork and get a medical professional to complete forms verifying the disability. I did this and got my general physician to fill out the forms and sent them in. I was so glad to discover I was eligible for the service.
I could go to doctor's appointments, my monthly infusions, and even go see friends independently. After having to rely on family for so long, it was nice to be able to go places and do things by myself.
It's fairly simple to use, but unreliable
You add TransHelp as a payee at the bank and top up your account. By emailing them, you can add up to 8 addresses to your file. To book the rides, you go to their website, log in using your given Client ID, and choose the date, time, and address from a drop-down menu.
Over the past 6 months, I have used this service almost 10 times. Most of the time, it goes smoothly. However, about a third of the time, my ride doesn't show up. You can see your ride's live location before they pick you up, and on the site, it would say they are on their way or should arrive momentarily. I've stood outside in the cold for upwards of an hour waiting for the vehicle that according to the site should already be there.
Because of my AS, it is not easy for me to get ready and wait outside for so long
Not only is it physically difficult because of my disability, but it is quite mentally taxing as well. Feeling unsure of whether I've booked the ride incorrectly due to brain fog or simply human error. Or I wonder if they've tried contacting me and I've somehow missed it. I also get stressed about being late for an appointment or missing it altogether. I require healthcare and missing important appointments can really set me back and potentially cause a flare-up of symptoms.
While I am grateful for access to TransHelp, it is quite unreliable. When my ride doesn't show up, it makes me feel expendable and marginalized as a disabled person. This is especially ironic considering this service is meant to aid disabled people in independent travel.
When TransHelp doesn't show up sometimes I have to call my family instead. I'm lucky that they are still around to help, but I can't imagine how it would feel for someone whose only option is TransHelp. However, there have been other times where I've had to call an Uber instead and pay way more money because my ride didn't show up, which is really unfair. The worst part of all is that they refuse to refund me when they don't show up.
The idea is good, but it needs improvement
All in all, the service is a good idea and is quite helpful at times. But it needs improvement. Services meant to help disabled people should aim to be reliable and consistent. Many disabilities are unpredictable and unreliable, so we need stability in the services meant to help us.
Again, I am grateful for this service. But I will be using it far less because now I am anxious about whether my ride will actually show up and take me where I need to go.
Have you had similar experiences with accessible transportation? Comment and share below.
Have you taken our In America Survey yet?