Part of the Metro Vancouver Transit plan is a commuter train that runs 4, well it should be five, trains in morning and evening rush hours.
The West Coast Express is pretty, and I like to grab it when I can. I live 10 minutes from one stop, 15 from another.
However; this system is seriously lacking in accessibility in terms of persons who use wheelchairs, walkers or scooters.
To make a comparison: Toronto has their GO train system, which runs all day, from morning to night, seven days a week. There is about 9, 10 lines.
That being said; each train has an area for mobility devices, which includes a raised platform. Understand not all stations have this, but most do.
And, what is more: if the station has the raised platform; it is expected to see a ramp being in place; regardless of if any person in a mobility device requires it.
Now, comparing that to the West Coast Express: there is no ramp in place. A person who uses a mobility device needs to shout or call out to attain accessibility.
Once, when I had my walker, I physically lifted it from raised platform to train. When I arrived at my station a conductor put the ramp up. Phew!
And then, yesterday…
I was using my new power chair… I tapped in, took the elevator down to train level. No one there to open ramp… train was due to leave in 2 minutes… so I honked my horn a few times… finally a conductor came rushing down, found the ramp, which was at another door, set it up, I drove on and 30 seconds later we were moving.
The conductor asked me: which stop was I getting off at, I said the next stop. And he assured me, by thumb up, he would be there.
30 minutes later, we arrived at my home station, we had zoomed right by the raised platform. No conductor made an appearance either.
Resignedly, I was annoyed, but waited. At the next station, we again zoomed right by the raised platform! I was mad! I had activated the ubiquitous emergency bar close to where I was sitting! A minute later the conductor arrived.
“I need to get off! You missed my stop,” I said.
He had the gall to ask if I could get off at the next stop, No!
So, to make amends, he backed the train up! Put the ramp down, and off I zoomed.
I am not apologizing to everyone who was late making their connecting buses, if the conductor had accessibility top drawer, everything would have gone smoothly!
So, West Coast Express, please develop a plan for persons using a mobility device!
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