A not well-known fact is that HandyDart, the TransLink service that is provided for people with physical and cognitive disabilities is not actually operated by TransLink but is contracted out to a subsidiary  of an American company operating as MVT Canadian Bus Incorporated.
Transportation Planner Eric Doherty  has prepared a new report recommending that TransLink bring the HandyDart service into the TransLink fold. As reported by Jennifer Saltman in The Vancouver Sun Doherty observes that “The evidence points to operating HandyDart directly as a public service as the best way to provide safe and quality service. Contracting out to any of the large corporations that provide management services to transit agencies will likely compromise quality of service without any real cost saving.”
Doherty wrote a report in 2013 that showed that many disabled people were being denied HandyDart trips, and provided his latest report at the request of the union in terms of the service and its governance. Chief among the findings was the need to have accountability, clear governance, and to increase the service by five per cent a year by 2021. Doherty based these figures on the fact that seniors over 70 will increase by 53 per cent in the ten years, with a commensurate demand for HandyDart services.
Since MTV’s contract with Translink expires in 2018, TransLink is already looking at developing a custom transit services call centre and assessing  passenger trip delivery. TransLink did undertake a review of the HandyDart service in 2016 as the service did not respond on time for people needing access to medical appointments, and taxi trips also paid for by TransLink increased. At the time the decline in acceptable service was  “blamed on a freeze in service hours attributed to the actions of the then-Liberal government and appointed TransLink board of directors.”
TransLink CEO  Kevin Desmond observed that “whether it’s our own employees or a contracted employee at HandyDart or Canada Line, that we hold them accountable to performance standards and performance outcomes. I don’t know that we were doing that well enough on HandyDart when I got here. We are doing it better now.”
A final decision on whether HandyDart will be brought in-house or again contracted out will be made at the end of 2017.


  1. a couple of key observations:
    1/ the average cost/ride on handidart is $40, to compare to ~$4 on the conventional system
    2/ Thought in the last 20 years, the conventional system has became 100% accessible, virtually 100% low floor, and electric scooter/wheelchair ubiquitous, the Handidart eligibility rules have not been adjusted in regard of new viable alternative for many.
    in regard of the above outsourcing or not a service is not the main handidart issue, which should be how to encourage more current handidart user to switch more often to the conventional system, in order to prioritize the use of the custom system for those really in need.
    Sure, there is still some work to be done on the conventional system, noticeably on the bus stops (which are not 100% accessible) to make the system more inclusive and welcoming, but it is probably better to invest there… and obviously advocate of better accessibility for senior and disabled shouldn’t accept transportation policy hindering their participation to social life (e.g accessibility to art gallery / public library), because a city remove good bus access to those institutions, assuming “book a handidart” – at $40/ride to the tax payer – is good enough…

    1. Sadly many people seem to misunderstand the needs of HandyDart clients. I have been a HandyDart driver and training instructor since its inception. My mom is a HandyDart client, taking a bus would simply kill her. I had to take HandyDart after knee surgery, walking to a bus stop was not an option. HandyDart has a cost bennifit for quality of life and health.

  2. There will always be a need for door to door Hand-Dart like bus system. The problem with conventional system is not the modern equipped buses themselves…but our sidewalk, road infrastructure system to get to and from the bus /train stop safely.
    There are terrible /no curb cuts or dangerous roads where it’s tough for a scooter or someone on a walk stroller aid to deal with. Not every building has a ramp (still), etc. and many other barriers.
    Some innovation is required here in a major way. Meanwhile, the scooters like to use the separated bike lanes. See for yourself, in any Canadian city that gets snow.

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