Trouble with Dial-A-Ride

After numerous complaints about the City of Cape Town’s Dial-A-Ride service, the director of transport for the Mother City acknowledged that her department was aware of the issues, Maddie Mazaza appealed to the public to practice a little more patience, after admitting that they had received a number of complaints about time delays from users.

“The relevant affected passengers must be patient because, as we know, this is not a normal service,” said Mazaza. “There could be delays because the other passenger might have had a problem. It’s not a medical service where we can say the driver is trained to take care of any other issues that may arise.”

Dial-A-Ride is a form of public transport to accommodate people with physical disabilities. The project, which was temporary at first, is an initiative of the City of Cape Town and started in 2002 when city officials wanted to find ways of accommodating physically disabled people who needed to commute to work.

“Only registered members may use this service because it’s limited,” said Mazaza about the service which is only available on week days. “The demand is quite high, but we can only accommodate a few because of the fleet size.”

Problems

A partially blind commuter of Dial-A-Ride, who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation, said she occasionally experiences timing problems. “There was a day when they [Dial-A-Ride] arrived two hours before the time,” she said. “My husband asked if they can come back later and then they didn’t pitch. When I phoned again they said they will see if they have time.”

Despite the problems, another commuter who is wheelchair bound because of cerebral palsy and who also wished to remain anonymous, said that Dial-A-Ride is not all bad. “At the end of the day it’s a good service,” she said. “It’s a much needed service.”

She also went on to explain that the problems lie within management. “The problem lies with the structure, the way it’s run,” she said. “They [drivers] go according to the instructions from the offices. So you can’t really blame the drivers. Too many people need a lift, but there are not enough vehicles,” she added.

Improve

Mazaza said that the transport department is looking at ways to improve the Dial-A-Ride service. “We’re trying our best to make sure we accommodate the needs of the disabled community,” said Mazaza. “But unfortunately with the size of the fleet and the size of funding we have we can only accommodate a few … the delay is sometimes beyond the control of the driver or the service provider.”

Mazaza mentioned that the contract of the current service provider, WCL Trading, is nearing its termination. In terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act the duration of the contract may not extend to more than three years. “So once it’s signed we cannot necessarily change the contract to accommodate other needs,” said Mazaza.

“But we got an opportunity now to review and get a new service provider and we will look at the other needs we have been advised on by the various segments of the community.” VOC (Faatimah Hendricks)

Original article can be found here.

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