News / Calgary

Daughter flags Calgary Transit Access 'ridiculous' application process

City officials say they need to see customers in person in order to figure out how to serve them properly

Kim Emons (left) visits her mom, Jeannette Visser, in her retirement home on Thursday.

Jennifer Friesen / Calgary Freelance

Kim Emons (left) visits her mom, Jeannette Visser, in her retirement home on Thursday.

A Calgary woman is speaking out after she says her 88-year-old mother had trouble getting access to a transit program, ironically, designed to be accessible to everyone.

Kim Emons recently tried to help her mother, who has limited mobility, get signed up for Calgary Transit Access, which provides service to residents who can't use transit because of a disability.

Together, they filled out a personal form, and got a doctor's evaluation. Then, the final step: Emons' mother had to be evaluated by someone from transit, in person.

"It just seems ridiculous," Emons said.

Getting a handicap sticker only requires a form, Emons pointed out. In comparison, she found the transit process complex and cumbersome for someone like her mother, who has difficulty just getting out the door.

Calgary Transit spokeswoman Sherri Zickefoose said the city has eligibility specialists who train for years to do functional assessments, and need to see customers in person to determine how best to accommodate them—it’s more than just filling out a form.

"They're building that relationship with the customer and learning whether we can better assist them," said Sherri Zickefoose. "It's more than just your doctor saying you can use it."

But Emons says she wished the city made the process easier. The day of her mother's transit evaluation happened to be a cold one, she said, and when they arrived at the transit station there wasn't parking near the door as it was used up by transit vehicles.

"I just had to double park," Emons said. "The sidewalks weren't in fantastic condition and my mom uses a walker, so she had to contend with icy conditions and going up through the building, trying to find the location, just to do the interview."

Coun. Druh Farrell said while Calgary Transit may need a face-to-face interview to help decide how to serve their users, they should be thinking about how those meetings can be better accomplished for people trying to usurp barriers.

"Can we be more flexible?" she said. "Our approach to disabilities, in general, is outdated and needs to change."

Farrell said the service is valuable, but clunky and could be improved.

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