Transportation arrangements can be a challenge for many people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). For those experiencing advanced symptoms, driving may no longer be an option. For others, navigating public transit can also be difficult due to mobility issues, medication concerns, and affordability. Fortunately, there is a wide range of cost-efficient transportation options for people requiring extra assistance when traveling locally.
Finding your best options
When planning a trip using public transit, consider all of the concerns you may typically encounter when traveling by car, bus, or train including:
- Are you travelling during peak transit times, or during your medication “off” times?
- Do you require extra time to get in and out of your seat?
- Which vehicle type will offer you the most comfortable ride?
- Is your destination within a comfortable walking distance from a bus stop or train station?
- Which routes would require you to make transfers to reach your destination?
Regardless of your chosen mode of transportation, the distance you are travelling, or your trip’s duration, it is important to always consider your wellbeing. It is helpful to bring a back-up dose of your medications with you wherever you go, along with medical information on your condition and specific needs, in case of an emergency.
BC Bus Pass Program
On January 1, 2018, the Province introduced the BC Bus Pass Program, granting people receiving disability assistance an additional $52 each month for transportation, to be used for a transit pass or other transportation needs. This program also offers a reduced-cost bus pass for low-income seniors. The pass, called a Compass Card, is valid in areas covered by TransLink (Metro Vancouver) and BC Transit (the rest of BC).
TransLink users can tap to scan their Compass Card when entering buses, and when entering and exiting Skytrain and Canada Line stations. BC Transit users receive an annual validation sticker for their Compass Card, which needs to be shown to the driver in communities outside of Metro Vancouver. To apply for the BC Bus Pass, contact the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction at 1-866-866-0800.
HandyDart provides door-to-door, shared-ride services to those with physical or cognitive impairments, for whom conventional public transit can be difficult to use without assistance. Drivers arrive at the passenger’s home or other departure point, help them board the vehicle, and assist them to their destination. This service is available across BC, with independent services operated by BC Transit and TransLink. Visit your local transit authority’s website to learn more and apply.
If you are unable to travel with a carepartner, friend, or loved one, there are options available across the province for community care services that can connect you with staff or volunteers to accompany you on transit when needed. These services can help you reach your destination in a safe, enjoyable, and low-cost manner.
HandyCard & handyPASS
If you require an attendant to travel with you, they can ride for free on TransLink vehicles if you have a HandyCard, or on BC Transit if you have a handyPASS. These are picture identification cards that are provided to eligible individuals who can provide verification of their medical condition. To learn more and register for a card, visit your local transit authority’s website.
Taxi saver program
The taxi saver program is available across the province, offering a 50% subsidy towards the cost of taxi rides for you and your carepartner or travel attendant. To qualify for this program, passengers must have a HandyCard or handyPASS.
Volunteer ride programs
Volunteer ride services provide reliable assisted transportation through various agencies across the province. Many are available through the Better at Home program, funded by the Government of BC, and managed through the United Way of the Lower Mainland. Local organizations within the Better at Home network also provide additional support services, like help with housekeeping, groceries, yard work, and minor home repairs, as well as friendly visits.
Navigating local services
To find transportation services or subsidies available in your community, contact your local health and transit authorities. Most major communities across the province can also access bc211, a 24/7 information hotline that can connect you with support services locally. Call 2-1-1 to access the hotline.
TransLink users across Metro Vancouver can request station assistance on the SkyTrain by calling 604-520-5518, or the Canada Line, at 604-247-5703. For those using the SeaBus, attendants are available at the ferry terminal to assist as needed.
BC Transit users can also access the Community Travel Training Program, which offers free guidance to seniors and people with disabilities looking to use regular transit services. This program trains individuals how to use their local transit system independently and confidently. A similar program is available in Vancouver through the Coast Mountain Bus Company, which offers sessions to those using mobility aids on the bus.
To find more information on transportation services available through your transit authority, visit the links below.
TransLink (Metro Vancouver only)
For help navigating resources and services available in your community, contact Parkinson Society British Columbia at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-668-3330. Our friendly and knowledgable staff are committed to offering support, sharing reliable information, and providing education.