A London woman calling on London Transit to improve its troubled paratransit service is asking the province to audit the system to highlight what she says are failures to meet provincial accessibility rules.

Jacqueline Madden, whose son Chris has spina bifida and depends on the service, filed the audit request today with Ontario’s Accessibility Directorate.

London Transit isn’t meeting provincial requirements to provide accessible service under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), Madden said.

“We are aware of several areas where the LTC is not in compliance with the AODA and yet they report every year that they are in full compliance,” said Madden. “We are hoping that an accessibility audit will help show them the areas where they are non-compliant and encourage them to develop an action plan to address those areas.”

Paratransit provides door-to-door transit service for users who have a disability that prevents them from using the regular service. The driving is contracted out to Voyago.

But paratransit is failing to meet the accessibility rules in a number of ways, everything from not providing information about the service in an accessible online format to not fully accommodating guide dogs. Madden said.

She’s been critical of other paratransit shortcomings, including an outdated booking system that requires phone calls to request rides instead of an online booking tool.

CBC News reached out to LTC general manager Kelly Paleczny for comment but did not receive a response. In an interview on London Mornings in March, Paleczny said LTC is working to improve paratransit, including its booking system in particular. She said service levels have increased by more than 50 per cent in recent years and that many of the issues flagged by Madden and others are due to be addressed in this year’s work plan.

Middlesex County has partnered with Voyago to help residents facing transportation barriers get to their vaccinations and medical appointments.
Driving for London’s paratransit service is contracted out to Voyago. (Provided by Taylor Mooney)

Paleczny also said he believes the system is AODA-compliant and that other transit systems face similar challenges.

Madden questions this, and is hoping the audit process will help clarify exactly where the system is failing to meet provincial standards and lay out a clear plan to address those deficiencies.

“We just want to keep the pressure on,” said Madden. “The answers we keep getting are that ‘We are not in violation and we have a plan.’ But we have yet to see them address those violations and have actual plans to do anything about it.”

Madden said she wasn’t sure how long it would take to get a response to her audit request. Fines for failing to comply are steep: Up to $100,000 a day for corporations.

CBC News reached out to the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario for comment but did not receive a response.

By zonxe