Published online at GlobalTVEdmonton.com on January 31, 2011.
Linda Hoang, Global News: Monday, January 31, 2011
DATS apologizes after disabled woman was abandoned
The Disabled Adult Transit Service is apologizing to a handicapped Edmonton woman after a trip last week left her abandoned at the wrong stop for hours.
“It wasn’t our finest hour,” Lorna Stewart, director of DATS, said Monday. “There were a number of opportunities we had to correct it but we didn’t.”
Last Tuesday, Lynne Oliver, who had contracted spinal meningitis at a young age and has not been able to walk on her own, called DATS for a ride to Millbourne Mall to get blood work done.
The dispatcher thought Oliver had requested a trip to Mill Woods Mall and when Oliver told the driver she wasn’t at the right location, the driver allegedly forced her off.
The driver told Oliver she would have to call the DATS phone line to get another ride but when the ride still hadn’t arrived two hours later, she tearfully called her husband George to pick her up.
The couple later learned another bus did come for Oliver — almost four hours after she was initially dropped off. And because she was classified as a “no-show,” she received a black mark on her file.
“So they expected her to sit at that entrance, at the wrong mall, where they kicked her off the bus for over 3 and a half hours, like a dog, waiting to see if maybe they found a ride for her to come home,” George said over the weekend.
Stewart explained Monday that normally a dispatcher will repeat and confirm the address with the DATS client but that was not done in Oliver’s case.
She also said the driver didn’t take the correct steps he should have either.
“He should have contacted the dispatch centre to get it corrected but he didn’t because he had other pickups,” Stewart said.
Along with the apology, the incident has prompted DATS to review their procedures so what happened to Oliver won’t happen again to her or anyone else.
“We will be reviewing these processes and looking at other ways that we might be able to do things better to really minimize the chance of this happening again,” Stewart said.
George calls DATS procedure a “failing system.”
He said Monday that he hopes the company actually follows through with reviewing procedures, especially since he claims this is the third time his wife could have been hurt while taking DATS.
“Over and over and over, you complain for 20 years and nothing changes down there,” he said. “I know mistakes happen but after the third and fourth times, something’s got to change.”
“I want to see people treated with respect, treated with kindness, treated the way they should be treated and kept safe.”
Oliver’s “no show” black mark on her file will also be removed.
With files from Linda Nguyen.