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News archive for June 24, 2010

City unveils new Handy Bus; elevator replaces older lift

Anyone in Whitehorse can now catch a bus downtown to city hall and make his or her way to any of the building’s three levels.

By Stephanie Waddell on June 24, 2010 at 2:55 pm


Photo submitted

NEW ARRIVAL – The city’s latest Handy Bus arrived last week. The vehicle, which cost $180,236, replaces a 10-year-old model (top). AT YOUR SERVICE – The new, ramped Handy Bus can accommodate two passengers in wheelchairs and 16 others, or four wheelchairs and 12 other passenger. Photos courtesy CITY OF WHITEHORSE

Anyone in Whitehorse can now catch a bus downtown to city hall and make his or her way to any of the building’s three levels.

Officials with the city and its Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee visited council chambers Monday afternoon to sing their praises for the new elevator and Handy Bus before unveiling the new bus outside city hall.

The Handy Bus is a service provided to those who are unable to use conventional transit. Those eligible for the service can book the bus for pick-up to take them where they want to go.

The 8.5-metre Dynamic Bus Specialty Vehicles bus can accommodate two passengers in wheelchairs and 16 others or four wheelchairs and 12 other passengers.

It arrived in the city last week at a cost of $180,236, and will replace the city’s 2000-model bus.

Meanwhile, the new elevator inside the Steele Street entrance to city hall came at a cost of $138,000 and much effort, officials noted.

“The city really went above and beyond,” said Rick Goodfellow, who chairs the advisory committee.

He recalled the city’s previous lift, installed in the “1900s” as Mayor Bev Buckway described, designed for wheelchairs, a piece of equipment that wrapped around the staircase to the city’s second floor on the Steele Street side of the building, known for breaking down.

Stairs were the only access to the basement. That lift was installed in 1988.

“I know I didn’t enjoy using it at all,” Goodfellow said of the old lift.

With no parts available to repair the lift after its last breakdown in mid-2009, the city began considering replacing the entire unit.

Rather than putting in a newer, similar lift, the city opted to go with an elevator-style lift that would provide service not only to the second level, but also to the basement.

“This building was a challenge,” Goodfellow said. He pointed to the logistical difficulties that saw a need to cut into the stairs, do rewiring and other work to accommodate the new access.

“My hat is off now to mayor and council (and staff),” he said.

As committee co-chair Pat Berrel commented, the new lift is not only a benefit to those who use wheelchairs, but to those using canes, with strollers and city staff needed to move items among city hall’s three levels.

“More people will have access to the entire building,” he said.

All the efforts to make the city more accessible, including the purchase of low-floor buses to make the city’s regular transit system fully accessible, are a benefit to all, officials agreed.

“The city has been making great strides to ensure that every member of our community is able to participate in community events regardless of physical ability,” Buckway said.

“Our new Handy Bus and lift are part of the city’s ongoing commitment to ensure complete accessibility.”

With the new lift and bus as good starting points, Goodfellow said, the committee is looking at how its next steps in encouraging a more fully accessible community.

Among those efforts are working with the city and territory on having accessible cabs in town which could also be used in a regular taxi fleet and are priced in a way that compares with transit.

Currently, Berrel said, there are no transportation options for wheelchair users after 6 p.m. at that price.

While it will no doubt take some time to happen, Berrel would like to see discussions on it among the city, territory and others.

Goodfellow also noted that with the new low-floor buses designed to make the regular transit system fully accessible, there are more snow-clearing needs around Whitehorse to ensure those accessing the system can get to the bus stops.

Prior to Monday’s press conference, Goodfellow and Berrel had also met with acting bylaw manager Dave Pruden. He told them the department had finished drafting the bylaw that will allow officers to go onto private property and enforce regulations around parking in a spot designated for those with disabilities.

It’s expected that will come forward for council’s consideration at its July 19 meeting.

CommentsAdd a comment

francias pillman

Jun 24, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Right on. More multimillion empty buses for Whitehorse. What is going on in this town? They invest millions more dollars into a broken transit system and parade around like it is some sort of achievement. But hey, Whitehorse voted for incompetence, they enjoy having a clueless barber continually make terrible decisions.

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