This week marks start of handyDART

Starting this week, eligible Ladysmith residents will be able to use handyDART services to get around the Cowichan Valley.

Starting this week, eligible Ladysmith residents will be able to use handyDART services to get around the Cowichan Valley.

The introduction of handyDART in Ladysmith is among a number of service improvements being introduced this week in the Cowichan Valley Regional Transit System. The changes, effective Monday, are based on extensive public consultation and a recent Paratransit study and are guided by the Cowichan Valley Transit Future Plan, according to a press release from BC Transit.

In Ladysmith, introductory handyDART services will be available on Tuesdays and Fridays.

“It’s an expansion of handyDART as it exists in the Cowichan Valley,” said BC Transit spokesperson Meribeth Burton. “BC Transit is 100-per-cent accessible on our conventional service, but there are some people who need a little extra assistance.”

handyDART is an accessible, door-to-door shared transit service for people with permanent or temporary disabilities that prevent them from using fixed-route transit without assistance from another person. handyDART picks a person up at their accessible door and drops them off at the accessible door of their destination. Customers must first register, at no charge, for this program.

There is an eligibility requirement, and anyone interested in using the handyDART service will need to fill out a basic health questionnaire, explained Burton.

Burton says the handyDART trips can go throughout the Cowichan Valley Transit System, which extends to Shawnigan in the south, Lake Cowichan in the west and Ladysmith in the north.

Currently, BC Transit provides 1,200-1,400 handyDART rides a month in the Cowichan Valley, according to Burton.

Burton says that when BC Transit and the Cowichan Valley Regional District introduced regular service to Ladysmith, the intention was always to bring handyDART to town.

“The demand is very high,” said Burton. “It’s a well-used system across the province. It’s very popular because of its convenience and the number of people who are eligible. We’re excited it’s expanding, and there is a demand for it.”

For more information, call 250-746-9899 or visit www.bctransit.com/regions/cow.