The City of Hamilton has ordered the third-party provider of its accessible transit service to remove more than one-third of its vehicle fleet from service.
The decision follows initial audit findings that uncovered issues with a significant number of DARTS vehicles, ranging from malfunctioning lights to serious mechanical problems.
“The concerns relate to significant failure rates on safety inspections,” director of transit Maureen Cosyn-Heath said during a media conference on Thursday morning.
She added that the review was prompted by a confidential complaint regarding the state of vehicles.
“We immediately took action and reached out to DARTS for service records, and we let the office of the city auditor know and also our risk management department,” said Cosyn-Heath.
She acknowledged there will be significant impacts for thousands of clients, but described it as an “unavoidable decision” that prioritizes customer safety.
“In the interim, the city will seek to work with DARTS to prioritize the remaining fleet be used for critical trips,” said Cosyn-Heath, “which would include such things as medical appointments for people seeking dialysis treatments and the like.”
The City of Hamilton estimates there are between 9,000 and 10,000 registered clients in the DARTS system.
Cosyn-Heath added that she’s hopeful vehicles will gradually be placed back in the pool for service in the next few weeks, as repairs are made and vehicles are re-inspected to the city’s satisfaction.
DARTS is a non-profit, charitable organization that owns a fleet of accessible vehicles and subcontracts for minivan and sedan service. It provides approximately 36,000 trips per month for people with disabilities in Hamilton.