Margaret Waring, member of the City of Williams Lake Accessibility Committee and occupational/physical therapist for School District 27, went for a bus ride with a friend recently to see how accessibility ramps on city buses benefit people in the community who need an alternative to stairs on a bus.
She invited Williams Lake Secondary Grade 8 student Allan Stafford, who is in a wheelchair, to try out the new ramp, and they boarded a city bus near his school.
The purpose of the trip around the city was to try out the ramp at the front of the bus.
Waring said that she has taken clients on city buses to make sure they could manage the stairs.
“Now I have been assured that our city buses are wheelchair accessible,” Waring explained.
“A lot of people assume that accessibility is restricted to wheelchairs, but that simply isn’t the case. It’s people walking, seeing, hearing — people being accepted, in a way. It’s people with a walker or a stroller.”
The ramp lifts hydraulically and lowers onto the sidewalk or side of the street. Wheelchairs and strollers can roll in and around a corner and strap securely in place.
Waring said topics that come up regularly at accessibility meetings are the fact that there are no wheelchair-accessible taxis in Williams Lake, and the hours of operation for the Go-Bus.
“If you can’t stand and transfer to a seat, and don’t have your own van, you can’t go out for dinner on a Saturday night, or attend an evening sporting event, concert or movie,” Waring continued.
Stafford and his family live in the Chimney Lake area and he said that his school bus is one of several in School District 27 with a lift.
He also said this was his first time on public transit.
“I think one of the biggest accessibility challenges is public transit – people getting where they need to go in their everyday lives,” Stafford said.
“This ramp is great. It’s easy to get on and off on your own.”