URBAN MOBILITY FORUM / FORUM SUR LA MOBILITÉ URBAINE - WINTER / HIVER 2017 - 18
FEATURE | ARTICLE DE FOND
Journeying Toward Independence
SOMETIMES AN OLD cliché says it best: life
is about the journey, not the destination.
When we board a bus, we don't really
think about all the decisions involved in
getting us to work, school, or recreation.
Most of us focus on the destination without questioning our ability to make the
journey. But the steps involved in taking
a transit route involve some relatively
complex decision making.
We need to judge the speed and distance of vehicles if we have to cross a
street. We need to be able to orient ourselves and use wayfinding techniques
or landmarks when we are in unfamiliar
locations. We need to make observations and draw conclusions: if I've only
ever seen a person on the bus, do I have
enough information about him to decide
he is a safe person? If he invites me somewhere, should I go? We may even have to
engage in risk management: I'm not going
to reveal personal information to a stranger for no reason, but if I am injured and
she is calling 911 for me, I might choose
to answer some questions.
Not everyone is able to master cognitive skills like these, so public transit
systems across the country generally
provide an accessible, door-to-door
option when specific eligibility criteria
are met, including developmental disability. Nevertheless, many people with
a developmental disability can, and do,
take regular transit independently.
It is important to cultivate and support
this independence, not only to relieve
pressure on regional accessible transportation services and save money, but also to
empower people to learn and do as much
as they are capable of learning and doing.
Travel training programs for people with
developmental disabilities can enhance
the overall accessibility of public transportation-indeed, of our towns and cities.
Hamilton, Ontario committed to
this inclusive approach back in 2011,
when our city-funded travel training program, Community Access to
© Airborne Video Productions
By Michelle Martin, Community Access to Transportation Hamilton
Transportation (CAT), was piloted. It
is administered by The Salvation Army
Lawson Ministries Hamilton, with input
from other Hamilton agency partners
around the Developmental Services
Transportation Committee table: YWCA,
L'Arche, Community Living, Christian
Horizons, Woodview Mental Health and
Autism Services, CHOICES Association,
Catholic Family Services, Developmental
Services Ontario (Hamilton-Niagara
region), Hamilton-Wentworth District
School Board, Hamilton-Wentworth
Catholic District School Board, and Rygiel
Supports for Community Living.
CAT bus training begins in the classroom, where pedestrian and personal
safety concepts are reviewed along with
the basics of riding the bus and planning
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a bus trip. In-house instructional videos are produced by Airborne Video
Productions, a company that provides
employment opportunities for people
with developmental disabilities. Once
classes are finished, trainees each learn
a route individually, with a trainer, on the
bus, using what they reviewed in class to
problem-solve and navigate their way to
their journey's end.
The initial two-year CAT project of
201 trainees was evaluated by the Social
Planning Research Council (SPRC) of
Hamilton in 2014. Evaluator Sara Mayo
estimated a potential annual return on
investment ranging from 26 to 186 per
cent, depending on different assumptions
about how many trainees would become
regular users of public transportation.