April 21, 2019 1:35 pm

B.C. senior denied HandyDART service on 86th birthday

It was supposed to be a chance for a Vancouver senior to get out and celebrate her 86th birthday. But as Kristen Robinson reports, when a HandyDART arrived to pick up Betty Joe Peters last Sunday, she didn't get very far.

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Betty Joe Peters only gets the chance to leave her Vancouver care home for visits about every six months.

That’s why the senior’s family was excited to arrange a trip to Peters’ favourite restaurant on her 86th birthday.

But when a HandyDART arrived at Peters’ care home on April 14 to take her the Oakridge White Spot a few blocks away, she didn’t get very far.

WATCH: (Aired July 3, 2018) Senior with disability waits hours for a taxi

“It was a very upsetting day,” Peters’ daughter DJ Paterson told Global News.

“They wouldn’t take us, that’s all there was to it.”

Peters was using a brand new wheelchair her family had purchased for her after HandyDART drivers had complained the foot rests on her old wheelchair were problematic.

READ MORE: Coquitlam woman forced to wait hours for wheelchair-accessible taxi on Canada Day

After Peters was loaded into the bus, her family says service stalled when the driver started to strap the senior in.

“She [the driver] decided that the wheels weren’t the right size on this new wheelchair,” said Paterson.

Peters remembers waiting and waiting in the HandyDART outside her care facility: “We’re going to go, and then we’re not…waiting, waiting, waiting.”

WATCH: (Aired Dec. 10, 2015) Riders upset over HandyDART driver shortage


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“We were pretty well abandoned in this parking lot at St. Vincent’s Langara,” said Paterson.

Peters’ dreams of marking her milestone with a legendary meal were dashed. Instead, her daughter and son-in-law delivered takeout chicken to her care home.

“Oh, it was ridiculous that’s all,” a disappointed Peters said.

In a statement to Global News, TransLink apologized for Peters’ HandyDART experience, but said the safety of customers is its number one priority.

READ MORE: Report urges TransLink to run HandyDART as a public service

“For our HandyDART customers travelling with a wheelchair, the wheelchair must have secure anchor points to the frame for attaching straps onboard. Or if possible, they may also have the option of being seated in the vehicle,” the statement read.

“I understand that they’ve got a very hard job to do and for the most part HandyDART has served us very well through the years,” said Paterson.

Paterson and her partner told Global News they are more concerned with how the incident was handled at the time it occurred.

READ MORE: ‘It’s humiliating’: Vancouver senior says cabs refusing service over TaxiSaver vouchers

“The insensitivity that was shown — I mean that’s what they’re there for,” Peters’ son-in-law Gordie Robb said. “They’re there to transport seniors who are unable to transport themselves.”

“It was just not right,” added Paterson.

Peters meantime, is taking her birthday letdown in stride.

“It’s too bad that it happened, but what are you going to do?”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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