Manitoba

City promises full report on Winnipeg Transit Plus complaints

A city committee requested a full accounting from the Winnipeg public service Tuesday on the problem-plagued Winnipeg Transit Plus service.

Transit Plus, formerly Handi-Transit, subject of human rights complaints, ombudsman report

Kevin Linklater, who has used Winnipeg's accessible public transit service since 2012, told CBC News in March 2019 that problems with the service got worse after the city switched over to new software to handle bookings. The city now plans a review of Transit Plus, to be completed by September. (CBC)

A city committee requested a full accounting from the Winnipeg public service Tuesday on the problem-plagued Winnipeg Transit Plus service.

The standing policy committee on public works voted in favour of a motion by Coun. Matt Allard (St. Boniface) that asks for a wide-ranging review into Winnipeg Transit Plus, the door-to-door, fully accessible public transit service formerly known as Handi-Transit.

The review would include customer service complaints and ways to address them, and how well the service has met recommendations from Manitoba's ombudsman. It would also look at issues with Transit Plus's new online booking system, which accessibility advocate Allen Mankewich says contributes to one-way trips, longer wait times and other problems.

"There's been quite a bit of feedback from my council colleagues and the public, and I think this report will be well received to inform that discussion," Allard said after Tuesday's meeting.

CBC has reported on a number of complaints with the accessible public transit service service in recent years. Some riders say they've waited more than an hour on hold to book a ride, others claim they've felt unsafe during their rides, and other users say they've been dropped off at random locations

Recently, the service switched over to its new booking software, which users say has exacerbated problems.

Allard's motion builds on a recommendation by the city's standing policy committee on innovation, which first recommended the city review the Transit Plus booking system.

Despite ordering a full review, Allard and the three other members of the standing policy committee on infrastructure renewal and public works — Couns. Jeff Browaty, Vivian Santos and Devi Sharma — approved two separate seven-year contracts with Transit Plus providers Tuesday.

Allard argues the vote to grant the contracts to two companies was in the best interest of Transit Plus users.

"We heard loud and clear from administration [that] not approving these contracts would have a big impact on service and I'm not prepared to hurt the delivery of handi-transit," Allard said.

Currently, all of Transit Plus is contracted out to private providers.

The administration expects to deliver its written report on Winnipeg Transit Plus in September.

Are you a Winnipeg Transit Plus user with a story? Email laura.glowacki@cbc.ca

About the Author

Laura Glowacki is a reporter based in Winnipeg. Before moving to Manitoba in 2015, she worked as an associate producer for CBC's Metro Morning in Toronto. Find her on Twitter @glowackiCBC and reach her by email at laura.glowacki@cbc.ca.

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