When North York City bus company MB Transit took the leap to provide wheelchair-accessible buses in late 2017, the city was a virtual wasteland.
In the five years since, the company has made some great strides, and it’s not the only one.
It’s the kind of leap that is often seen only after a decade or more, when a major transformation takes place, when the company is able to transform its brand into something more welcoming to the disabled community.
“I feel very fortunate that it’s taken this long,” says Chris Bower, who works as a driver with MB Transit in North York.
He has worked for MB Transit for seven years and has ridden in several buses with disabled passengers, including a wheelchair-bound passenger.
“It’s a real privilege to work in a place that respects the disabled,” he says.
“We’re so lucky to be able to do this.
The bus service has been great to work for.
The drivers are so nice, and they are very good at helping passengers and taking them to places that are convenient.”
The bus companies are not the first to make strides to assist the disabled.
Transport for London, the national government agency that manages London’s buses, is committed to making bus service accessible to all.
In fact, its new wheelchair-friendly buses will be rolling out this month, and the city has a long list of other new initiatives.
But for the company that has been making a lot of progress, the arrival of the new wheelchair buses in North Park is an exciting moment.
North Park, with a population of almost 1.3 million, has been in a constant state of flux since its inception.
For years, the North York city council was struggling to figure out what it should do with the property, which was earmarked for development.
Its residents, who include some with disabilities, were concerned about safety on the bus.
After several years of public consultations, council members finally voted in 2015 to move the bus to North Park, but it was not until 2016 that the company began to take full advantage of its existing properties.
Then, in 2017, MB Transit announced it was adding an ADA bus service to the network, allowing the company to expand its service to more of its sites.
Now, North Park has its own dedicated bus service, which has been used by more than 200,000 people in the past five years, and has been a popular destination for people with disabilities.
There are no buses in the North Park area right now, but Bower says that’s about to change.
According to the company, its bus service will soon be expanding to the area around its existing sites.
“That’s a big step forward,” he explains.
“I feel like that’s going to change the whole experience.”
Transportation for London has launched a new wheelchair friendly bus service in North London, which is currently offering service to a number of sites in the area.
(Courtesy MB Transit)The city has also set up a new accessibility fund, called the NorthPark Fund, which will provide funding for projects to help those who need the most assistance to get on the buses.
As the Northpark bus service expands, the council will also be launching a new disability awareness campaign, which aims to get people talking about their disability and their experiences, and to highlight the city’s inclusive nature.
The company says it is already seeing positive responses from the public and from people with the disabled, and says it plans to continue to add new buses and improve service throughout the year.
MB Transit says the North park service has already seen a 40% increase in passenger demand and has already surpassed its target of 1 million passengers on the service every month.
“We have a lot more buses in place than we had last year,” Bower explains.
Transportation Minister Andy Burnham welcomed the company’s announcement and said the North parks service is an important first step towards increasing accessibility for people who use the service.
“The company has been very supportive of our plans to expand the service and the new accessibility programme,” he said.
“They have been very clear that the North Parks service is going to be a long-term priority.”