Kitchener-Waterloo

'No other options': People with disabilities isolated by transit strike, advocate says

As the region enters day three of a transit strike, many people have been left to find other ways to get around town. But the strike has made especially hard for people with disabilities, who rely on transit, to get around due to limited transportation options.

'There's very, very limited choices and people are basically trapped in their homes'

Waterloo region's transit strike has raised major transportation challenges for people with disabilities as many solely rely on transit to get around the region. (Radio-Canada)

People with disabilities in Waterloo region continue to face major transportation challenges as Grand River Transit workers enter their third strike day.

Edward Faruzel, executive director of Kitchener-Waterloo AccessAbility, says there are very limited transportation options available for people with disabilities and many solely rely on public transit.

Kitchener-Waterloo AccessAbility is an information and resource centre that serves and supports adults with physical disabilities in the region.

Faruzel, who uses a wheelchair, said there are less than 20 accessible cabs available within the twin cities and even less accessible options on Uber.

"If you're able bodied you could walk or you could go with a friend in their vehicle, but really there's very, very limited choices and people are basically trapped in their homes," he said.

Even for those who can take a cab or an Uber, it's still not a feasable option, he adds.

Relying on friends, neighbours

Faruzel normally relies on GRT's Mobility Plus and the ION to get to where he needs to go. Mobility Plus has been affected by the strike and though ION is still running, the closest stop is three kilometres from where he lives.

He said he considers himself fortunate because he owns his vehicle, but he needs someone to drive it.

"I still need to get somebody to drive me back and forth, so I'm having issues finding someone to pick me up and take me to work and then take me home," he said.

"I'm relying heavily on friends, neighbours to help me with the regular day-to-day living tasks."

Transit an essential service

 Kitchener-Waterloo AccessAbility's ability to deliver services have also been affected by the labour strike.

The agency says they've had to postpone all of its events until the strike is over.

A possible solution to the issue would be for transit to become an essential service, Faruzel said.

"Because other than that, there really are no other options."

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