In early 2018, Todd – a self-advocate served by our Community Inclusion program – encountered Lynda, Fraserside’s Chief Executive Officer, on the bus in New Westminster and offered to take Lynda on a tour of the transit system from his perspective as a wheelchair user. Todd’s advocacy work aims to increase awareness for his diversity and inspire more inclusion amongst transit users and decision makers.
“I’m not complaining. I just want to show people. This is what I have to deal with. It’s not a piece of cake. If they could see what I deal with, it might make it a whole lot easier for people to better help people in wheelchairs.”
A few months later during a visit to Fraserside, the mayor of New Westminster, Jonathan Coté, who is also a council member of TransLink, heard about Todd and Lynda’s transit tour and invited himself to join.
With the help of Fraserside personnel, Todd planned the tour. The group would travel by bus and SkyTrain, experiencing line-ups and elevators, from our Horizons facility in New Westminster to Lougheed Town Centre station, and back again. Todd planned the tour to take 1.5 hours.
When the #106 bus finally arrived on April 27th to take Todd and his group on their tour, they were unable to board – the space designated for wheelchairs was already occupied. Unfortunately, says Todd, this is a common occurrence: “I get turned away about once every five trips. And I don’t always get told why. It impacts my life when I’m trying to get somewhere. People expect me to be on time but I can’t with the buses.”
The next bus had space for Todd and his motorized electric wheelchair and he showed his group how he navigates it on the bus ramp and around the spot designated for wheelchairs, scooters or strollers.
As the bus driver helped Todd secure his wheelchair, the group observed the anxious energy from other riders, which Todd explained is common. “I come across some people on transit who are rude and bossy. And a lot of passengers wear earphones. They’re oblivious to others, including wheelchairs.”
The group also experienced the limited space of the elevators at each station, making it challenging to stay as a group and for Todd to maneuver and reach the buttons. Todd kept a level-headed perspective: “I just try to deal with it as it happens. There’s a lot of things I could get upset about but, with transit, I don’t.”
More people like Todd need support. Will you give today?
Your generous gift is needed to continue and deepen how the people we serve experience belonging. Please make a donation today.