Wheel-Trans is the door-to-door accessible option of Toronto’s public transportation system for those who qualify for the service. While it used to be only for people with physical disabilities, it recently “open[ed] up [its] eligibility criteria to include any person with a disability that prevents a person from taking conventional transit for all or part of their trip” (http://www.ttc.ca/WheelTrans/Strategy/summary.jsp).
I had some initial hesitation about registering, due mostly to the fact that I’m slowly becoming an eighty-year-old thirty-one-year-old and am not actively seeking new ways to feel even older. Having grown up in a city with a large elderly population, many of whose members (rightfully) utilize the fleet of Handy-Dart buses, the Victoria equivalent of Wheel-Trans, I (wrongfully) associate Wheel-Trans more with being old than with having accessibility needs. Yes, I realize that there are major flaws in my thinking. Yes, I’ll blame my brain injury. Yes, I know that I’m not justified in doing so.
Anyway, I eventually got over myself and applied, at the urging and with the assistance of the occupational therapist that I was seeing at home before I started my neuro day-hospital program. I was approved a few weeks ago, and I’m now using Wheel-Trans regularly, mostly to get to and from the hospital, but also for some other outings.
As hyperbolic as this may sound, it’s been life-changing for me. Simple as that.
At first, I was only taking it with a companion—in other words, it was more convenient and less tiring than regular transit, especially since I have my cane (and, in recent days, sometimes my walker) to contend with, but it wasn’t doing much in terms of increasing my independence. Now, however, I’ve started to use it by myself, too. That it picks me up right at home and drops me off right at my destination, eliminating the possibility that I’ll get confused and miss a connection and/or wander off during the trip and end up at the zoo rather than at the rehab hospital—though, now that I see it in writing, I’m not sure that this would be a horrible outcome—is what makes it feasible for me to travel solo.
I know that you’re super curious about what a typical Wheel-Trans ride is like (for me: YMMV) from booking to drop-off, so I’ll now outline one. I apologize to the 95% of you who don’t care. Please take this opportunity to take a sip of your coffee, zone out for a minute or two, and skip to the closing paragraph.
Wheel-Trans in Some Number of Steps, in My Personal Experience
- Log on to the online system. (You can also call. I haven’t tried that yet.)
- Make a reservation, which is pretty easy. I won’t explain the process in detail here, mostly for reasons of laziness.
- After you’ve entered the details of your trip, including whether you’ll have a mobility device and if you’re bringing a companion with you, and clicked “book,” a page should appear with a half-hour window for pick-up and drop-off and the type of vehicle you can expect (for me, it’s always been an accessible cab).
- Get an automated phone call the night before your trip with exact pick-up and drop-off times so that you’re not sitting around twiddling your thumbs for half an hour at both ends of your voyage.
- When Wheel-Trans comes for you, get in, pay any way you would using “normal” transit, and be transported to your destination.
So far, so good: everything’s gone smoothly on every Wheel-Trans trip I’ve taken so far. The vehicles have arrived relatively punctually, if not early, the drivers have been friendly, and the experience has been much less intimidating than regular transit is these days. And as a special bonus, I haven’t had a single brain-related mishap yet! At a time in my life during which conventional TTC isn’t an option for me to use alone and is a lot for me to handle even with the support of my husband, Wheel-Trans has been truly liberating, allowing me to go places by myself for the first time since 2016 and to do so pretty confidently, if I do say so myself.
In conclusion, I admit without hesitation that I was a stubborn idiot for waiting as long as I did before taking the plunge and filling out the paperwork for this incredible service. Thanks, Wheel-Trans, for existing. I appreciate you.