'Fed up': New booking system at Winnipeg Transit Plus creates delays for people with disabilities, health issues
The transition to a new booking system at Winnipeg Transit Plus is causing a big headache for some people with disabilities and health issues who rely on the service.
Winnipeg Transit Plus is the newly-rebranded name for Handi-Transit, and lately there have been big delays with the service.
Nineteen-year-old twins Jordan and Jeremy Rogodzinski live with disabilities.
Jordan has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Jeremy is an amputee.
Winnipeg Transit Plus is a lifeline for them to get around.
Last week the transportation service's booking system was upgraded and left the twins waiting Wednesday for 90 minutes for a ride to an event with the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities.
"Once we got fed up, I threw my mitts on the ground and we just said we are not going," said Jordan Monday night in an interview with CTV News.
Winnipeg Transit said pick-ups were late that day because it was the first day drivers were adjusting to the new system and some had difficulty.
"Kids with disabilities don't get out and socialize enough, so we are trying to get out to socialize, and Handi-Transit was late, so we couldn't even go, because by the time we would have got there, the event was over,” said Jeremy.
The twins aren't the only riders feeling frustrated.
CTV News also connected with the family of a 70-year-old woman who relies on the service three times a week for dialysis.
Last Tuesday they say she waited almost five hours on the phone to confirm her pick up time.
In an interview with CTV News, manager of client services Josie Fernandes apologized.
“Very, very sorry that happened and that caused them inconvenience,” she said.
Winnipeg Transit said the reason for the long waits on the phone is because the service was booking each ride twice -- once in the old system and again in the new system -- as a precaution so no rides would be missed.
Fernandes said what are usually two minute calls ended up taking five or six minutes, but things are getting back on track.
"We're still learning and so it depends on the time of day that people are calling because different times of the day have different volumes, but overall average wait times are three to five minutes for a call," said Fernandes.
CTV News called Winnipeg Transit Plus Monday night with Jordan and Jeremy, waiting just over 20 minutes for someone to answer.
Fernandes said a power outage Monday knocked out the computers for about 90 minutes.
As the day progressed, calls to make bookings got backed up.
Jordan and Jeremy Rogodzinski said their latest experiences have them looking for other ways to get around.
“We're actually going to give it a bit of a break because we are actually scared to book, because it might not show up,” said Jordan.
“We have to go to other options. You can't be late for a medical appointment,” said Jeremy.
MORE CHANGES AT WINNIPEG TRANSIT PLUS
Winnipeg Transit Plus is going through several changes to improve the service.
Fernandes said it receives about 1900 calls every day and does up to 1500 trips a day.
It has 65 vehicles out on the street and normally has five to six staff members answering phones, but to help with the transition it has 11 people working.
It said it’s trying to make the system better and there will be information sessions for users, likely next month.
Among the improvements, people will eventually be able to book rides online, and be able to look at all their past and upcoming trips.