The time is NOW for ParaTranspo online booking
One of the frustrations of advocating for better transit in Ottawa, is that the city seems to have tunnel vision concerning the LRT - claiming that all other issues must wait until the train is running. But not all problems will be solved by the LRT.
Sally Thomas, an organizer with Ottawa Transit Riders, has been advocating for OC Transpo to implement online booking for years.
She has been documenting her struggles with the current system by posting her wait times on Twitter – she frequently spends hours every morning on hold waiting to book ParaTranspo services.
Such poor service is disrespectful. Does the City think that persons with disabilities have nothing better to do than wait on the phone?
After ten years of pressure, OC Transpo is perhaps ready to think about modernizing its system.
ParaTranspo serves people in Ottawa with a wide range of abilities and challenges. But people with hearing impairment, speech or dexterity issues may struggle with the current telephone-only system.
Canada has made a commitment to support a new Strategy for an Accessible Government that will encourage various levels of government to meet and exceed the accessibility obligations required under the new legislation. Accessible transit is a human rights issue. People with disabilities are members of our communities; they need to be able to get around with ease and dignity.
Clients of ParaTranspo pay for service just like everyone else who uses transit in Ottawa – they deserve service that is fair, accessible, and effective.
Some people have expressed concern that people who continue to need telephone booking will get worse service than those who switch to online booking, but advocates of the change insist that freeing up telephone lines will give everyone better service as long as OC Transpo maintains both services. (Which it has promised to do).
A modern booking system that offers both online and telephone options can benefit all ParaTranspo users.
Kudos to new councillor Rawlson King for pushing this issue forward, and to Healthy Transportation Coalition for their support, and of course to Sally Thomas who has been indefatigable in this battle.
What happens next is not clear, but we will keep readers informed as this proposal moves ahead.