Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Vehicles In Stettler

Stettler Independent - New transportation service available for Stettler area residents:

By Richard Froese - Stettler Independent

Published: December 10, 2008 10:00 AM
Updated: December 10, 2008 10:55 AM

Stettler area residents requiring transportation to medical appointments anywhere in Alberta can now access a new van service thanks to Stettler and District Handibus Society.

A 2008 Chevrolet Uplander van valued at $55,000 and a new 2008 Chevrolet handibus valued at $85,000 recently arrived with strong support from many community partners.

'We want to promote our new van service,' said Owen Blake who serves as a director of the society.

Both vehicles were officially presented to sponsors and supporters on Dec. 3."

For more info see the rest of the article.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bonnyville Handibus back on road

(Ed note: Excellent support from Bonnyville's MLA. Our own recent request for matching funds a bus was cut by a third. Obviously local priorities prevail)

Bonnyville Nouvelle - Handibus service saved

Christmas came early this year for a dedicated group of Bonnyville residents struggling to save the town’s Handibus service.

The Handibus was involved in a collision in July and was damaged beyond repair. That meant an end to activities for seniors who rely on the bus for transportation and put a contract to transport special needs students to school in jeopardy.

The Handibus’s major source of revenue is a contract it has with the local school transportation system. With the start of school rapidly approaching, the Bonnyville Lions Club and its Handibus partners immediately started to look for ways to fund a new bus.
The fundraisers hit a snag when they discovered that the grants they wanted to apply for from the provincial government required matching funds from the group requesting the grant.
Desperate to find a solution to their dilemma, the group approached Bonnyville-Cold Lake MLA Genia Leskiw for help.

“I said fill out an application and we’ll find the money somewhere,” Leskiw explained.
With the school transportation contract on the line, two members of the group – Padey Lapointe from the Bonnyville Health Centre and Rita Bell from Bonnyville Community Health Services — took out personal loans to pay for a new Handibus so it would be available to take students to school in September.

On Thursday, their sacrifice was rewarded when Leskiw presented them with a cheque for $65,290 from the province’s community initiatives program, enough to cover the cost of the loan.

“This is the best part of my job,” Leskiw exclaimed as she received hugs and words of gratitude.

Newell Community Action Group gets a better budget

The Brooks Bulletin: "NCAG getting more money for handibus
Sandra Stanway
Brooks Bulletin

The Newell Community Action Group, who is in charge of operating the city’s handibus service, was given additional funding by the city.

Council formalized an agreement on Monday that was signed at the end of November, giving the non-profit organization $48,584. The funding is considered a budget adjustment and is for a deficit for the organization’s 2007-2008 fiscal year that ended in July.

Alan Martens, a finance employee with the city, said when they run a deficit the city makes it up to them.

“If we see there is a deficit then what the city will do is reimburse them for that deficit,” he said. “If they’re running a deficit through the year on their program, they’re paying for it, they’re running into the hole and then they don’t get money from the city until after year end. So they don’t have to finance that,” he said.

The Newell Community Action group will now get $5,000 or $60,000 per year. Until this point, the city had transferred about $33,000 for each year.

In addition to the money, another change under the new agreement will include vehicle repairs. In the past the city has covered certain repairs, but now the city will take care of all the work.

To help offset the costs as well, users of the service pay $3 per ride."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Is transportation for seniors finally on the Alberta Government's radar?

A recent Alberta government report places transportation issues amongst the top ten anticipated requirements of Seniors...

Albertans weigh in on planning for future seniors

Demographic Planning Commission's Findings Report highlights Albertans' thoughts on seniors and how to meet their needs

Edmonton... Feedback from more than 10,000 Albertans and over 100 organizations is captured in a new report on the needs of current and future seniors.

“Alberta’s population, like that of the rest of Canada, is aging,” said Mary Anne Jablonski, Minister of Alberta Seniors and Community Supports. “We felt it was important to hear from Albertans and I thank everyone who took time to provide feedback. Your input will help us prepare for an aging population, including the large number of baby boomers who may have very different needs than current seniors.”
The Demographic Planning Commission’s Finding Report captures the feedback from an online survey and meetings with organizations who support or provide programs and services to seniors. The report is divided into 10 main themes:

  1. Enabling seniors to remain in their own homes.
  2. Providing services to seniors in the community.
  3. Better connecting seniors with services.
  4. Building the workforce.
  5. Undertaking appropriate transportation and capital planning.
  6. Meeting the health needs of seniors.
  7. Determining how to provide effective government support.
  8. Supporting the role of the family and informal caregivers.
  9. Fostering respect and dignity towards seniors.
  10. Raising awareness among future seniors to better prepare.

The full report is here: DPC Findings report

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Hold the Phone!!!!!!

this video link is the right one.....

Going For The Record - Las Vegas Sun

Wheelchair athlete's back flip lands him in record book - Las Vegas Sun

It's been about two years since we saw the vid of young Mr Fotheringham doing his first wheelchair backflip. But it was only Oct 31, 2008 when he finally had the opportunity to enter the Guiness Book of Records for his achievement. A Las Vegas paper covered the official event and there is a stop action vid to show how easy he makes it look.

Wheelchair athlete's back flip lands him in record book - Las Vegas Sun: "Aaron Fotheringham went into the record books as a pioneer in wheelchair sports Saturday.
Guinness World Records recorded the Northwest Las Vegas resident, in front of a crowd of more than 300 at Doc Romeo Park, as the first to complete a back flip in a wheelchair."

(editor's note: The athlete always seems to get the babe...)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Charities face loss on lottos

It's getting harder and harder to raise a dollars. This sort of big effort raffle is waay out of our league but there is perhaps a prophetic warning.

Edmonton Journal- Charities face loss on lottos:

"EDMONTON - An Alberta lottery supporting children's charities is in danger of losing money this year, as an economic downturn sours ticket sales.

Demands for increasingly lucrative prizes and higher advertising costs have also hurt the Changing Lives Provincial Lottery, which has sold barely half its tickets with less than two weeks left in the campaign.
Organizers are now scrambling to peddle another 1,000 tickets by Nov. 1. If they fail, the lottery will not have enough money to cover its costs and won't be able to provide a contribution to the charities it supports."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hanna - Handivan handy

Hanna Herald - Alberta, CA:
"The Hanna Handivan might not have originally been intended to be used to help out the library staff, however when it’s not being rented out it’s doing just that.
Purchased by Fred and Hattie Schmitz and the Cliff Wall Estate, the Handivan, which can seat a number of people in a wide variety of ways, including those who use large motorized wheelchairs, is a great tool for the Hanna Library staff, who use it to cart books to and from the post office, as well as for their home delivery service."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Gift for Hinton Handi-bus

Hinton Parklander - Alberta, CA:
"Local mine operator Elk Valley Coal dropped almost $70,000 Oct. 8 into two Hinton projects, fulfilling the funding for one and paying half the costs of another.
The company dedicated $43,000 to pay for half the third phase of the Beaver Boardwalk, a final phase that will double the boardwalk's length, according to the project’s co-ordinator.
A handful of local seniors and special needs children were on hand at the announcement to watch as Elk Valley fulfilled the fundraising campaign for a new Hinton Handi-bus, giving the $25,500 needed to complete the public (campaign).
'Quality of life [in Hinton] has been greatly enhanced by these donations,' said Dale Currie, chair of the Handi-bus campaign."

Monday, September 29, 2008

The dream.. and the reality

A fellow from the Motor Carrier Passenger Council of Canada stopped in to chat about their on-going project to raise the status of bus operators. It's an interesting arguement, raise the profile of the bus driver with an acreditation to similar to a trade. Go see more about it at: http://www.buscouncil.ca/

However after the spinning of webs and the daydream of the enhanced training dollars we could access, I came back to the basic problem facing any small town special transportation provider: "are we going to make it through the next year?"

I sent this follow-up note:

From: Paul Siller
To: Jim Mckinnon

Hi Jim,

Thanks for dropping by and explaining the MCPCC initiative.

I guess I'm a bit lukewarm to the effort because while the training and certification is something we'd like to look towards in our future, our immediate concerns are pure survival.

The province of Alberta chopped funding in 1994 for operation of public transit (and special needs transit). Despite elimination of Alberta's deficit and debt, there has been no provincial support for transit since that time. While municipalities have increased access to resources, there are no guidelines from the province that special needs transportation has to even be provided by a municipality. The result is
that we never know if we are going to make through each year

Sadly, the province is growing, hospital beds are scarce and folks released into "care in the community" are being sent back to the hospital as transportation isn't available. Just after you left I fielded a call for dialysis that we can't provide with our present resources. The lady will have to stay in hospital for another two weeks. Oddly enough, the $22,000 it will cost for her hospital stay would cover her transportation for about 18 months.

I think part of the lack of support relates to the poor image governments have of transit. It's viewed by the provincial cabinet as a nuisance. Yet the 100 special transportation providers helps the province save some $75 - 100 million a year from senior services, children's services, health, learning and more (that's about a billion dollars since they dropped our funding and forced us to work even harder).

Until there is some stability in support from the Alberta government, I don't see trade skills certification for special needs transportation drivers moving in any kind of serious way here in Alberta.

Good luck with the project.


Note; Your milage may vary.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Facebook | Speak Up for Public Transit

Facebook | Speak Up for Public Transit

Not enough buses, trains to meet new demand; the federal government must invest more money into transit!

This is the conclusion of a joint public opinion poll commissioned by CUTA and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Now a federal election is looming. What a great time to get our message across!

All political parties are aware of this survey and we need your help in making sure that every single candidate, especially in your own ridings, realizes that rising gas prices are cutting into Canadians’ spending power and prompting them to consider taking public transit for some relief. Transit ridership could triple as a result of higher gas prices. But we all know that without new funding, this kind of increased demand would overwhelm urban systems, many of which are already at or beyond capacity during peak hours. CUTA is expecting that the country’s transit systems will require $40 billion over the next five years to meet the demands and expand public transit.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Funding shortfall puts Brooks handibus service in jeopardy

“We just can’t do this for another year.”

The Brooks Bulletin
Contract negotiations between the city and the Newell Community Action Group for Brooks handibus service that were first reported in the Bulletin in March have gone nowhere.
 NCAG executive director Pat Whyte says in June she provided the city with a 2008-2009 budget showing a $67,000 shortfall. She says she hasn’t heard anything in response from the city.
 “Yet in our contract with the city it says we should never run at a shortfall,” she said. Last week Whyte sent another letter to the city asking for amendments to be made to their contract with the city effective January 1, 2009.
 Currently the city provides the NCAG with $1,998 per month to operate the handibus and puts another $2000 per month into a reserve for a new handibus should one be needed.
 Monthly expenditures related to handibus service in Brooks amount to well over $2000, with driver’s pay and fuel for the bus exceeding the amount provided by the city.....

(see article for more details)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Activist for disabled taking on bus battle

Activist for disabled taking on bus battle

Dave Rogers, Ottawa Citizen
Published: Tuesday, September 02, 2008
OTTAWA-After challenging the National Capital Commission because the York Street Steps are not accessible to the disabled, Bob Brown is taking the Société de Transport de l'Outaouais to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal because its buses aren't wheelchair-accessible.

The tribunal is to hear the case in October.

Mr. Brown, 54, uses a motorized wheelchair after being disabled in a car crash when he was 18.

In February 2005, he was unable to get on an STO bus on Rideau Street bound for Winterlude at Jacques Cartier Park in Gatineau. Now on medical leave from his job with the federal government, he says Canada's capital city should be a model of accessibility for the disabled.

"If you are a person with a disability using a wheelchair living on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River, you can't use the Quebec transit system," Mr. Brown said Tuesday. "Most of the OC Transpo buses work for me, but I can't use the STO buses because they are not accessible.

"The Canadian Human Rights Act says they must provide reasonable accommodation, but my understanding is that STO buses won't work for wheelchairs until 2017."

Mr. Brown says he isn't interested in using special para-transit buses for the disabled because he wants to be able to travel without reserving a bus a day in advance. He said the STO operates a bus service for the disabled, but it is for Quebec residents only.

(see more at the original article)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Handivan ready to roll

Portage Daily Graphic - Manitoba, CA: "
Handivan ready to roll
Posted By Angela Brown, The Daily Graphic

It will be easy riding this weekend with a little help from the Portage la Prairie Handivan Inc, that is now back on the road again starting Saturday.
Executive director Delores Gumowsky said the useage will be monitored to determine if there is a need for the Saturday service.
'With the increase in other people's fares, I'm wondering if we'll be really, really busy,' said Gumowsky. 'If we're not busy and we're back down to where we were before for the number of riders, we might just take it out of service for Saturdays.'"

More here

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Profile of Albertans with Disabilities

We found this by accident. This report provides some detailed number specifically for Alberta.

Office for Disability Issues - Alberta Seniors and Community Supports:
"A Profile of Albertans with Disabilities presents the profile of Albertans with disabilities primarily using data from the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS) 2001. The profile includes both a brief primer on disability statistics and comparative Canadian and international data."

The 62 page PDF is available at:

Monday, July 07, 2008

New Bus for Cochrane AB

Big Hill adds new Handi-bus to fleet

by James Emery
Wednesday May 28, 2008

Cochrane’s Big Hill Senior Citizens Activity Society welcomed the newest member of their family when a brand new 2008 Ford Handi-bus was delivered May 14.

The new bus, decked out with the latest safety features and conveniences, will provide seniors in Cochrane and parts of the M.D. of Rocky View more freedom and independence that they may not of had otherwise.

"Our goal is to provide affordable transportation to seniors and persons with disabilities in the town of Cochrane and in the surrounding portion of the M.D. of Rocky View," Orville Lammle, driver and transportation coordinator for the society said.

more (including picture) at:
Cochrane Times

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"When is the next bus?"


Fake bus stop keeps Alzheimer's patients from wandering off

By Harry de Quetteville in Berlin

The [Kent, UK] Daily Telegraph

Last updated: 11:11 PM BST 03/06/2008

German nursing homes are using a novel strategy to stop Alzheimer's
patients from wandering off: phantom bus stops.

The idea was first tried at Benrath Senior Centre in Düsseldorf, which
pitched an exact replica of a standard stop outside, with one small
difference: buses do not use it.

The centre had been forced to rely on police to retrieve patients who
wanted to return to their often non-existent homes and families.

Then Benrath teamed up with a local care association called the "Old
Lions". They went to the Rheinbahn transport network which supplied
the bus stop.

"It sounds funny but it helps," said Franz-Josef Goebel, the chairman
of the "Old Lions" association.

"Our members are 84 years old on average. Their short-term memory
hardly works, but the long-term memory is still active.

"They know the green and yellow bus sign and remember that waiting
there means they will go home."

The result is that errant patients now wait for their trip home at the
bus stop, before quickly forgetting why they were there in the first

"We will approach them and say that the bus is coming later and invite
them in for a coffee," said Richard Neureither, Benrath's director.
"Five minutes later they have completely forgotten they wanted to leave."

The idea has proved so successful that it has now been adopted by
several other homes across Germany.

Monday, June 09, 2008

MPC - Survey of Implementation Strategies by Rural Paratransit Agencies Using Low Cost Software (MPC-04-161)

MPC - Survey of Implementation Strategies by Rural Paratransit Agencies Using Low Cost Software (MPC-04-161): "Survey of Implementation Strategies by Rural Paratransit Agencies Using Low Cost Software"

This article is a treasure. It provides an overview of small system operations (such as ourselves) and the benefit of utilising some form of scheduling software
Here is one passage that finally provides a concise explanation of the increased demand for service we experience in the era of short hospital stays and "care in the community:

1.7 External Influences
Over the years, coordinated transportation professionals have observed a significant impact on their service related to the changes in the health care field in the '80s and '90s. A single medical "episode of care" would involve a ride to the hospital for admission, and a ride home following discharge - two one-way trips.

Today that same episode may involve as many as 16 or 18 one-way trips

  • to the hospital for pre-admissions testing, then home
  • to the hospital for "same day surgery," then home
  • a return to the hospital the following day for an appointment with the surgeon, and home
  • to the primary care physician's office weekly, for four weeks, for check-ups, then home
  • to the surgeon one month later for a check-up, then home

Changes in our health care delivery systems have impacted the demand for coordinated transportation service, as well as the levels of service that we offer.

Finally an explaination for something we've been trying to explain to policy makers over the past few years.

This is one of the excellent studies available at the Mountain-Plains Consortium (MPC)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Big Hill Seniors Activity Society adds new Handi-bus to fleet

Cochrane Times, Cochrane, AB: "Big Hill adds new Handi-bus to fleet

by James Emery
Wednesday May 28, 2008

Cochrane’s Big Hill Senior Citizens Activity Society welcomed the newest member of their family when a brand new 2008 Ford Handi-bus was delivered May 14.

The new bus, decked out with the latest safety features and conveniences, will provide seniors in Cochrane and parts of the M.D. of Rocky View more freedom and independence that they may not of had otherwise."

See the full article at: Cochrane Times, Cochrane, AB

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Seniors Need transportation to Calgary hospitals

Airdrie City View: Letters to the Editor: May 9 2008
(Airdrie) Seniors Need transportation to Calgary hospitals


Dear editor
I would like to bring to your attention the plight of the senior citizens in Airdrie who need transportation to and from Calgary to visit family members who are in hospital or confined elsewhere due to illness.

My husband has been confined to the Peter Lougheed General Hospital in Calgary and will be there for quite some time. I have to depend on the kindness of friends to take me in to visit him during the day as there is absolutely no way of getting transportation into Calgary other than a taxi at the cost of $90.00 to
$100.00 return trip. The Cardinal Seniors Handibus, which runs twice weekly to Calgary, is for medical appointments only. For that reason people in my situation do not qualify.

It is very important to the psychological well being of a patient in hospital to have the presence of family members by their side. This is very frustrating to say the least and more so when it can be for a long period of time. I am not alone with this problem as there are many other residents, not only seniors, in this same predicament. There are many residents who do not drive or who do not have a vehicle at their disposal. With a city this size which is experiencing continuing growth, there will be many more seniors with the same transportation problem as it is not going to go away.

This situation needs to be addressed now. I’m urging people to phone, email or write to the mayor, aldermen and the City’s transit department.

Changes will be made with enough public support. Does this mean we need a petition? If so, it can be arranged. Remember the motto, “United We Stand.”

- Jill Coombs, Airdrie

Monday, May 05, 2008

Attitudes towards children with disabilities need improvement, parents say


"Attitudes towards children with disabilities need improvement, parents say

Although our communities have come a spectacularly long way over the years when it comes to including kids with disabilities, barriers persist, say people who deal with such issues daily."

Last Updated: Friday, May 2, 2008 | 12:33 PM ET
By Lisa Bendall CBC News

It should have been an exciting milestone in the life of her child. Instead, due to a simple piece of hardware, the first day of kindergarten was for Kim Bell the beginning of a series of frustrating battles with regulators and red tape.

Ian Bell's entrance into kindergarten in Winnipeg ran into a glitch when school administrators didn't want his walker brought on the school bus, saying it was dangerous.

Ian has cerebral palsy.

Bell was faced with a choice: Shell out close to $500 for a second walker to keep at school, or drive to the school every day herself with the mobility device in her back seat.

Neither option sat well.

"I went to the superintendent. I went to the school trustee. I went to the provincial Department of Education," remembers Bell.

She pored over the education guidelines and determined that no policy existed for this type of situation. "I suggested, 'Can't we just tie it down with a bungee cord?'"

Finally, after weeks of perseverance, Bell received a response from the school's transportation department. The bungee cord system had been accepted.

more at:

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Transportation a heavy burden for lethbridge resident

Transportation a heavy burden for westside resident: "Transportation a heavy burden for westside resident
Apr 30, 2008, 04:26

For most residents, getting around Lethbridge isn’t much of a challenge. If they don’t drive, there’s a modern transit service operating easy-entry buses on every route.
For those who need help, Lethbridge also offers Access-a-Ride service with wheelchair lifts and personalized service.
But it you’re over-sized, there could be a problem. Westside resident Bill Chomos says he’s grateful for LA Transit’s response when he needs to see his doctor."

Not being able to get around is a problem,” particularly when there’s a medical appointment on the other side of the river.
Realizing the lifts on their Access-a-Ride vans can’t handle Chomos plus his 400-pound power wheelchair, the transit dispatcher sends a full-sized bus instead. But Chomos — who’s battling a thyroid disorder — says he’d been picked up by Handi-bus drivers before the city took over that operation.

Now transit officials warn he’s too heavy for lifts on their Access-a-Ride vans.

“They have an 800-lb. capacity,” says special services co-ordinator Diane Boulton at LA Transit. Beyond that, it’s hazardous to the driver, the passenger and any others on board.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Enabling Accessibility Fund - Deadline: April 30, 2008

Enabling Accessibility Fund

Office for Disability Issues
The Enabling Accessibility Fund supports community-based projects across Canada. It provides funding for projects that improve accessibility and enable Canadians, regardless of physical ability, to participate in and contribute to their communities and the economy.

Approved projects will have strong ties to, and support from, the communities they serve. All projects must be in Canada and must identify a positive impact on people with disabilities.

Two types of funding are available periodically through Calls for Applications (grants) or Proposals (contributions). Open calls are always indicated on this page.

The Call for Applications for Small Projects Enabling Accessibility 2008-2009 is now open. Deadline: April 30, 2008

The Call for Proposals for Major Projects Enabling Accessibility 2008-2009 is now open. Deadline: April 30, 2008

more at: www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/disability_issues/eaf/call2008/index.shtml

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

You laugh about the possibility...

Every paratransit driver chuckles at the thought of this... because it would never happen. Right?

Read this recent article (emphasis is mine):

Man in wheelchair robs bank

By Banks Albach and Jason Green, MEDIANEWS STAFF
Article Created: 04/05/2008 02:35:38 AM PDT

A senior citizen in an electric wheelchair allegedly robbed a bank at Stanford Shopping Center on Thursday afternoon and managed to motor his way to freedom, authorities reported.

Police described the suspect as a white male, 65 to 70 years old, with gray hair and a beard. He was last seen about 4:25 p.m. wheeling toward El Camino Real in a wheelchair, one of his legs in a cast, said Agent Dan Ryan of the Palo Alto Police Department. Both of the suspect's legs were wrapped in some type of bandage or gauze.

The suspect entered a Wachovia Bank at the shopping center and allegedly pointed a black handgun at a teller and demanded money, Ryan said. The hood of the man's sweat shirt was pulled over his head during the incident.
"It sounds unusual because it's certainly not the fastest getaway in town," Ryan said.

Police did not disclose how much money the suspect absconded with but it appeared as though he needed the wheelchair, Ryan said. The device was large, bulky and probably required some type of hydraulic aid to lift.

Roughly 10 minutes before the heist, a man in a wheelchair, presumably the bank robbery suspect, entered a nearby Sharper Image and asked for a shopping bag, a request perplexed store employees fulfilled, Ryan said.

Clerks then watched the man get into a white service van with red lettering, which Ryan said may have belonged to a paratransit service.

"We're not sure the person who was driving the van was aware of what this guy was doing," he said.

(article continues)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Wetaskiwin Times Advertiser, Wetaskiwin, AB

Wetaskiwin Times Advertiser, Wetaskiwin, AB: "Handi-van confusion
The Wetaskiwin Community Transportation Society which operates the Wetaskiwin Handi-van is offering service to Millet, but there was confusion as to how much it would cost.

“A motion was passed to allow Millet seniors access to the dispatch services we provide, based on payment of the same rate paid by the County of Wetaskiwin,” a letter to council stated.
The cost would be $10,000 per year for operating costs and 38 cents per kilometre.
While Coun. Margaret Andrade was very supportive of the project, noting that, “this is a lot cheaper than us funding this on our own,” council was not sure what the 38 cents meant.
“Does 38 cents mean per person or per trip?” Mayor Dave Gursky asked.
Council tabled the item for clarification."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Brooks Alberta = Funding shortfall forces renegotiation

Brooks Alberta Local News - The Brooks Bulletin: "Funding shortfall forces NCAG to renegotiate handibus contract

Rob Brown
Tuesday, March 18, 2008

While there will be no extended service hours offered at this time, Brooks Handibus is in the midst of renegotiating their contract they have with the City of Brooks to provide handibus services in the city.

“We talked about extended services and why they just aren’t going to be happening,” said Newell Community Action Group’s executive director Pat Whyte. NCAG is the umbrella organization that oversees programming for Brooks Employment Services, Brooks Services for People with Disabilities and the handibus.

The city had recieved requests for extended handibus service beyond their regular hours of 7:30 a.m, to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.

She said that costs were the lone determining factor when it came to extended service. Whyte said the costs associated with the extra hours were far too high. She said a budget in the amount of $80,000 per year would be needed.

“As a part of looking at extended hours we did our due diligence - we called nearly every handibus service in the province to find out hours, costs, ridership costs and not one of them breaks even,” she said.

“Municipalities in most other areas are running them and covering costs.”"
(see more in the article)

Friday, February 29, 2008

Banff Crag & Canyon, Banff, AB

Banff Crag & Canyon, Banff, AB: "A report on how to create the area’s Regional Transportation Authority is expected by the end of May.

The Town of Banff has obtained the services of a husband and wife consulting team experienced in transportation system design.

The Vancouver-based couple from Shirroca Consulting will be coming to the area in early-March to meet with the Regional Transit Steering Committee and other industry members.

“They are coming to say how it is we can provide an integrated year-round regional transit system that will not only serve the needs of visitors, but also those that commute in our communities,” said Darren Reeder, chair of the Regional Transit Steering Committee."

(more detail in the article)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Broken Alberta Promises: a Series (part IV)

Hiding in an obscure corner of the Alberta Seniors website is this page:

Reports and Recommendations - Alberta Seniors and Community Supports

In particular, this page has three consultation reports that identify transportation as being one of the barriers for seniors in rural Alberta:

1) Consultation with Seniors and Seniors’ Service Providers in the Red Deer Area including Lacombe, Ponoka and Rimbey. December 2006
From executive summary: "transportation is a major issue in the rural areas "

2) Consultation with Seniors and Seniors’ Service Providers in the Hinton Area
including Edson, Jasper and Grande Cache
September 2006
(Identified as a barrier/challenge) "lack of affordable, accessible transportation, both locally and for out-of-town medical appointments

3) Consultation with Seniors and Seniors Service Providers Lethbridge October 18, 2005
"Participants report serious transportation difficulties for seniors, especially in the rural areas around the City of Lethbridge." (with suggestions subsequently made for provincial assistance for volunteer drivers)

Comment: it appears that one part of the Alberta Government cannot talk to collegues across the cabinet table.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Canmore supports transportation plan

Canmore Leader, Canmore, AB:

"Canmore town council has agreed to support a plan that could eventually lead to a public transportation partnership being forged in the Bow Valley.

Council unanimously supported a motion Tuesday to support a provincial grant application from the Town of Banff to begin setting up a Bow Valley Transportation Authority.
By gaining the Town of Canmore’s support, the grant application is increased to $75,000 to complete the study."

At this point, the application aims to hire a consultant to see what sort of structure is needed to run a Bow Valley Transportation Authority, and how that service will be funded. The consultant will not be studying how the transportation project will run on a day to day basis, simply how it will be governed.

“This will hire a consultant to weigh the governance options… to handle transportation,” planning and engineering deputy senior manager Kevin van Vliet said. “This will look at what sort of agency can be created that can reasonably, equitably operate between the two towns. This looks at what sort of corporation can we have to make this work.”
(see the article for more)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Broken Alberta Promises: a Series (part III)

This report came out in 2001

Community Transportation Options for Persons with Transportation Disabilities in Edmonton, Red Deer and Claresholm

Some of the reccomendations include:

2. That the local transportation per capita funding rate within the Unconditional Municipal Grant Program be increased from its current level of $3.19 to reflect both the changing profile of the Alberta population and the increasing travel needs of Albertans who must access community supports and services.

3. That current municipal population data be applied to the Unconditional Municipal Grant Program.

4. That the Municipal Affairs Grant Regulation be amended to designate the per capita funding provided specifically for the provision of local transportation services.

5. That the availability of funding to improve accessibility under the urban and street improvement programs be made widely known.

Coincidently, this report came out just as we were receiving responses from Alberta Cabinet Ministers that a review of the Unconditional Municipal Grant was pending from the province.

...and no such review ever happened.

Broken Alberta Promises: A Series (part II)

In 2005, we were asking the Alberta Government if the long promised review of accessible transportation funding would indeed move forward. The province replied with the announcement of a study:

Transportation For Seniors
And Persons with Disabilities In Alberta

We'll "cherry-pick three comments from the RECOMMENDATIONS section:

Most service providers are located in urban and local centres such as towns and villages and hence provide most of their
service within those boundaries. People residing in (remote)
rural Alberta do not appear to have access to public specialized
transportation services to the same degree. The data suggest
that over half a million of Albertans do not have access to
specialized transportation.

The unmet demand will continue to increase in the next 10
years across all regions. This is supported by service providers’
estimation as well as Alberta Health and Wellness’ population
predictions. In particular the proportion of seniors requiring
specialized transportation services will increase dramatically. In
some RHAs the proportional increase in the total population of
seniors will be close to 200%.

Most service providers do not believe they will be able to meet this demand with their current resources.

Once the report was issued, any effort for a review of funding for accessible transportation just disappeared.

Broken Alberta Promises: a series

from STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS AND FUTURE ACTIONS: Healthy Aging and Continuing Care in Alberta, Alberta Health and Wellness, April 2001

Alberta Health and Wellness and the health authorities will work with other government departments, municipalities, stakeholders, and the voluntary, private and public agencies to promote environmental changes in communities that will facilitate healthy living and "aging in place." This includes the design of barrier-free communities, development of accessible transportation services for persons with frailty and disability, and the development of caring support networks at the community level.

Alberta Health is just one of seven provincial ministries that depends on the availablitity of accessible transportation services.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Camrose and the County of Stettler Receive Infrastructure Investments

federal press release:

Camrose and the County of Stettler Receive Infrastructure Investments:

"The Camrose Public Transit System project will include the purchase of three 18-to 24-passenger wheelchair lift equipped transit buses. These buses will be powered by a diesel engine that can also use low-sulphur diesel fuel or bio-diesel fuel once these alternative fuels become available in Camrose. The project will also include the installation of 60 formal bus stop locations, four passenger shelters at high-traffic locations and two bus pull-out lanes on the City's busiest roadway."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The MOST Awesome Transit/Paratransit Library Resource

The Transportation Cooperative Research Program has some incredible resources available to the the small canadian paratransit provider. We suggest you explore the following links:

TCRP Reports
TCRP Web-Only Documents
TCRP Synthesis Reports
TCRP Research Results Digests

TCRP Legal Research Digests
(disclaimer: these tend to deal with American legal situations)

happy reading!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Guess What Happened?

Now we can tell you the story...

Last month, one of our drivers was overdue for his first pick-up. A couple of phone calls lead us to the discovery that while enroute to his first pick-up, our driver had encountered nine bulls on a dark, early morning road. As the cattle where distributed across the road, there was little option to avoid them.

Although the driver walked away with only some scratches, three bulls were killed instantly. Our new minivan (purchased from by Liberty Motorco in June 2007) did not fare the incident well but obviously protected its lone passenger (i.e. the driver).
We are pleased to report that insurance is covering the loss and a replacement will be with us next month.

Now that everything is resolved one question remains... What do we call this incident?
(please cast your vote on our home website www.rockyviewbus.ca)

[Vote often!]

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Handi-Bus Dispatch on Town of Strathmore

Handi-Bus Dispatch on Town of Strathmore

A year and a half ago, the Handi-Bus Association approached Wheatland FCSS to provide dispatching services for the Strathmore and District Handi-Bus Association. During that time, Wheatland FCSS has established and developed a process and procedure to dispatch efficiently to the public. Fifty percent of the dispatcher’s salary is paid between the Town of Strathmore and Wheatland County. The growing demands for Handi Bus service now dictate this percentage needs to increase. The municipalities felt that if the Town were to continue with dispatching, resources from within the Town could be used to save money on salaries.

Currently, the Town employs the Driver’s for the Handi-Bus and will be willing to accept dispatching within the Town’s resources of Community Services. Working and learning from Wheatland FCSS, the Town would be able to, seamlessly to the public, take over the dispatching. This process will become effective January 4th, 2008. The Handi-Bus phone number will remain the same so there will not be any confusion for the public, the only difference will be, that the Town will answer the phone. The Handi Bus Association, Town of Strathmore and Wheatland County would like to express their gratitude to Wheatland FCSS for all their hard work and contributions in dispatching this past year and a half by helping the citizens of Strathmore and Wheatland County in their transportation needs. Wheatland FCSS’s philosophy is to assist organizations by helping them to establish a program until it can become self-sufficient. They are in support of the Town accepting the dispatching services...

The Town of Strathmore will strive to continue with excellent service to the public and will be looking at implementing an on call dispatch for the weekends for emergency use only. If you would like any further information or have suggestions on this please feel free to call Carole Engel, Director of Community Services for the Town of Strathmore at 934-3204 local 228.