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Wheels set in motion for handyDART expansion in Comox Valley

COMOX VALLEY, B.C. – All signs are pointing to an expansion of the handyDART service in the Comox Valley.

CVRD manager of transit and sustainability Michael Zbarsky said staff are seeking endorsement of expanding the door-to-door, shared ride service for passengers with physical or cognitive disabilities.

Last week, the CVRD’s committee of the whole supported the expansion, which would see the addition of 1,500 hours of service. The recommendation will now carry forward to the CVRD board for their support at the end of the month.

If the board endorses the expansion, “we’ll be doing a little more planning on exactly what those handyDART expansions will look like,” Zbarsky said.

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If the board gives the expansion the green light, staff will inform BC Transit that the district is “good for our share of the funds, and BC Transit then has to confirm their share of the funds and we’d get into the detailed planning of exactly what we’re going to go with that.”

The cost associated with the 1,500-hour expansion is estimated at a little more than $100,000, with the CVRD’s portion amounting to $35,000.

The public has been asking extending handyDART’s hours of operation, to make the service more accommodating to its clients, according to Zbarsky.

“We hear a lot about having later service into the evenings – currently handyDART ends at about 4:30 (p.m.),” he added. “We could look at extending that later on in the day. We heard a lot about weekend service – (handyDART) doesn’t operate on the weekends so we could provide weekend service.”

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There were also requests for service on stat holidays such as Remembrance Day.

An alternative would be focusing more on peak service in the valley.

“Instead of running on evenings and weekends, maybe we need to put the expansion towards more service during those peak parts of the day,” Zbarsky said. “We’re at capacity right now, and people aren’t able to get a trip right now, so this would allow them to get that trip.”

The proposed 1,500 hours of extra service is a cost-saving measure, to save the costs of adding a new bus to Comox Valley’s handyDART 14-bus fleet.

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“We’ve got some opportunities to use the existing buses that we have in the fleet, and we’d just focus them in on either peak service or evening and weekend service,” Zbarsky said.

HandyDART is for clients who are unable to use conventional public transit without assistance. The driver comes to clients’ homes, help them board on the bus, and get them to the door of their destination safely.

The Comox Valley service concentrates on the core areas of Courtenay, Comox, and Cumberland.

To register for Comox Valley’s handyDART service, click here.

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