Winnipeg Transit Plus leaves callers hanging days after ombudsman raps rebranded service

Callers trying to arrange rides from Winnipeg Transit Plus say they've been left on hold for as long 90 minutes, mere days after a provincial report recommended improvements to what used to be known as Handi-Transit.

New software system to blame for lengthy delays, city says

Handi-Transit, now called Winnipeg Transit Plus, receives around 2,000 appointments per day, but roughly 700 of them are cancelled. (Samuel Rancourt/CBC)

Callers trying to arrange rides from Winnipeg Transit Plus say they've been left on hold for as long 90 minutes, mere days after a provincial ombudsman's report recommended improvements to the service formerly called Handi-Transit.

On Tuesday, the Manitoba Ombudsman recommended 19 ways the City of Winnipeg can improve transit service for people with special mobility needs.

On Thursday, the implementation of a new software system created lengthy delays for users calling Winnipeg Transit Plus.

"It's a lot of things, but it's not plus," said Nancy Hansen, a University of Manitoba professor and director of the school's master's program in disability studies.

It's a lot of things, but it's not plus.- Nancy Hansen, a University of Manitoba professor and director of the school's master's program in disability studies

Hansen, who uses crutches, was on hold Thursday for 90 minutes Thursday.

Former Winnipeg city councillor Paula Havixbeck said Thursday her mother has been trying to arrange a ride for three days.

Nancy Hansen, the director of the Interdisciplinary Master’s Program in Disability Studies at the University of Manitoba, was left on hold for more than 90 minutes Thursday. (Submitted by Dan Harper)

The implementation of a new scheduling system led to the delays, Winnipeg Transit spokesperson Alissa Clark said in an email statement.

"As a result, customers are experiencing higher than normal wait times for their calls to be answered as staff adjust to the new system. Winnipeg Transit Plus realizes this is an inconvenience for our customers and we thank them for their patience as we take steps to minimize those delays," Clark said.

The city expects the wait times to improve within "the next few days," she said.

Clark said the service will improve with the help of an online app, call-out notifications and an improved web interface.​

City council public works chair Matt Allard (St. Boniface) said it's a "frustrating situation," but expressed optimism the new software will improve the service.

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