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View Point

By Shirley E. Curek

Saturday, September 9, 2000

Handivan isn’t so
handy for disabled

City must make van service
prompt and consistent

FOR more than a year now, I have been depending upon the Handivan for transportation to and from work and doctors' appointments. From the onset, I had heard nothing but negative comments about the van. The primary complaints were about long waits and long hours on the van.

I have found all of these complaints to be valid.

Most recently -- since April of this year -- I have found the scheduling of pick-ups and drop-offs by the Handivan to be (incredible as it may seem) even worse than before.

I have been documenting the days, the lateness of the pick-ups and the hours spent on the van since May. Of the times I had scheduled pick-ups, the van was late 53 percent of the time. It appears the 30-minute window has become the norm rather than the exception.

Frequently, I have had to wait as much as an hour or longer with no good explanation from the dispatchers except that the van is "running late."

The one and only time I contacted the Handivan complaint line, the gent informed me that they were "a mass transit system and couldn't I find other means of transportation."

This seems to be the consensus. I've called the mayor's complaint line on four occasions and, each time, received a call from the Handivan with excuses of personnel shortage and gas pump problems.

After that, the van would be on schedule for a week. Then, it was back to the long waits.

I consider myself a "regular," someone who uses the van Monday through Friday. The morning pick-ups are not a problem. A handful of us are picked up every morning by the same van and driver.

Why can't this happen in the afternoon? At least three or four of us could be called "regulars" and should be manifested on the same van each day. Yet this doesn't happen. From day to day, I have no idea who will be picking me up and, most importantly, when.

Expecting someone with a physical disability to wait anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour is not reasonable. I have been on a van for three hours before being dropped off.

A healthy person would be exhausted, let alone someone like myself who has had two major back surgeries. I can barely transport myself from wheelchair to recliner on arriving home.

THE frustration and physical agony brought about by such an uncaring and incompetent system are incomprehensible.

I am not the only one who is totally disgruntled with the Handivan. Others are also tired of the excuses. We are being treated like society's discards.

This being election year, I certainly will encourage those with disabilities to consider carefully when selecting their candidates of choice. The current administration has shown itself to be indifferent to our plight.

Perhaps it's time for a complete changeover. Hiring a "token" employee to head the Handivan program was a poor decision and can never take the place of a competent individual.

Unfortunately, I have no choice but to continue using the Handivan. But I will continue to voice my complaints and encourage others to do the same. I will also be a strong advocate for a new city administration and will encourage others to join me.

Shirley E. Curek is a secretary and a Kaneohe resident.

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