‘It just makes things dif­fi­cult’

Fam­ily asks for changes to ac­ces­si­ble bus ser­vice

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY ERIN POTTIE

The daugh­ter of a Glace Bay woman who re­quires life-sav­ing treat­ment is ask­ing for an ac­ces­si­bil­ity fleet ex­pan­sion in the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

An­nette Cluett says her 70-year-old mother, who lives next door in an at­tached apart­ment, started un­der­go­ing kid­ney dial­y­sis last fall.

Jane Cluett must now travel about a half hour, three times a week, for treat­ment at the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Hos­pi­tal in Syd­ney.

The se­nior uses a wheel­chair and re­lies the mu­nic­i­pal HandiTrans sys­tem for her ap­point­ments. Due to an in­creas­ing de­mand for the ser­vice, she can only be trans­ported one way.

“The wheel­chair makes things dif­fi­cult but it’s the fact that I work,” said An­nette Cluett.

“My son is 17 — he wants to work — and has a life out­side of school. It just makes things dif­fi­cult try­ing to ar­range ev­ery­thing.

We have one ve­hi­cle.”

An­nette asked if her mother’s sched­ule could be changed but was told it wouldn’t be pos­si­ble due to the high vol­ume of pa­tients re­quir­ing care.

She said it’s un­clear if chang­ing the days of Jane’s treat­ment would help in se­cur­ing trans­porta­tion from HandiTrans

in both di­rec­tions.

“It’s an older pop­u­la­tion,” she said. “And she’s not the only one in this predica­ment.”

An­nette said with­out help Jane would be re­quired pay about $75 a week in taxi fares, which is no small fee for some­one on a fixed in­come.

“If she doesn’t go she’ll die,” she said. “It’s not that we can put it off for a cou­ple of weeks. She has to go. I’m only speak­ing up for my mother. I’m her ad­vo­cate but there’s some out there who don’t have that.”

The Cluett fam­ily is ask­ing CBRM and the prov­ince to con­sider fund­ing an ex­pan­sion of Handi-Trans that would al­low for trips to and from the hos­pi­tal.

Dis­abil­i­ties ad­vo­cate Mar­cie Sh­w­ery-Stanley uses the bus­ing sys­tem six times per week and has no­ticed a change in the vol­ume of clients.

“The rid­er­ship has in­creased im­mensely over the years but the ser­vice has not kept up,” she said.

“With our de­mo­graph­ics for se­niors, it’s not go­ing to let up. It’s go­ing to con­tinue.”

Sh­w­ery-Stanley de­scribes the ser­vice as a life­line for users such as her­self who use power wheel­chairs and can­not be trans­ported by reg­u­lar ve­hi­cle.

Mu­nic­i­pal spokesper­son Jil­lian Moore said Handi-Trans sys­tem ad­min­is­tra­tors try to find an al­ter­nate sched­ule that will work for their pas­sen­gers.

“The de­mand is high for the ser­vice,” she said. “It is a pol­icy that we guar­an­tee one-way based on avail­abil­ity, but you could get re­turn ser­vice if the sched­ule al­lows.

“We al­ways try our best to ac­com­mo­date ev­ery­one within the lim­i­ta­tions of our bud­get, the num­ber of driv­ers and our fleet.”

Moore said a pi­lot pro­ject this year will see 20 more hours added to Handi-Trans.

A re­cent an­nounce­ment of pro­vin­cial fund­ing will al­low CBRM to pur­chase a new Handi-Trans bus; how­ever, the ve­hi­cle will be used to im­prove the cur­rent fleet, not ex­pand it.

ERIN POTTIE/CAPE BRE­TON POST

Jane Cluett is picked up Thursday af­ter­noon from one of three weekly dial­y­sis ap­point­ments by her grand­son Adrian Cluett, age 17.

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