The Toronto Star ran a story about Wheel Trans today that said: “Paris Hilton should be so lucky. Her private chauffeur probably doesn’t provide the kind, attentive service” that Wheel Trans does.
Tess Kalinowski’s ‘feel good about the incredibly problematic, segregated transit system’ article is actually about cutting the already limited program.
Wheel Trans is already considering cutting service to dialysis patients and looking at who else they can kick off the system to save money.
Wheel Trans is not a system full of frills like Paris Hilton’s private transportation. Hilton probably isn’t at risk of being sexually assaulted by her driver, as has happened on Wheel Trans. Hilton doesn’t risk being cut off of transit if she is late a couple of times like wheel trans riders are. If Hilton’s driver is late, there is probably something she can do about it, unlike Wheel Trans riders.
And, if Hilton wants to book a ride she probably doesn’t have to get up at 5:30 in the morning like some Wheel Trans riders do in order to get through on the phone. Wheel Trnas superintendent Bill Frost says: “One of the reasons is our customers are lonely people… If we doubled the operators it wouldn’t make any difference.” That is a bold faced lie. It would make a real difference to the people I know who can’t possibly book a ride. And, for folks who don’t know, it is one thing to encourage people to book online but that is really hard when they won’t let you book online unless it is to go somewhere you have already been dropped off. Why? probably because it is disablist and paternalistic.
I have a friend whose grandmother waited for 2 hours in a snowstorm for Wheel Trans once. Eventually she just started walking. She fell and broke her hip.
Wheel Trans doesn’t need cuts. It needs accountability, transparency, and to respect its passengers. It also needs more funding. I fully support cutting the number of people that take Wheel Trans if it is because they make the TTC fully accessible, not because they are drawing arbitrary medical lines to save cash.
Even Paris Hilton deserves better than Wheel Trans.