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TTC has lame excuse for disabled kids: Strobel

Smarten up and give them a bus stop

by Mike Strobel

What has the TTC got against disabled kids?

Why make ‘em trek hills, ditches or long, icy sidewalks to get to Variety Village.

Give ‘em a bus stop, for crying out loud. They’ve pleaded for one for years.

It should be a cinch.

Thousands of disabled kids visit the Village in Scarborough to swim, work out, play, mingle and enjoy life.

If any place needs and deserves a bus stop, it’s Variety Village.

SO GIVE THEM A FRIGGIN’ BUS STOP!

Nope, sorry, no can do, not worth it, says the TTC.

Chief general manager Gary Webster writes: “Variety Village is located on a section of Danforth Ave, which has virtually no development … which would generate only limited ridership.

“All TTC services must meet or surpass specific minimum ridership and financial thresholds.”

Besides, he purrs, the TTC already has three links to Variety Village. So, what’s the beef?

Well, Mr. Webster, get off your cushy chair, hop in your car and go see.

Here’s what I found:

Wheel-Trans does, of course, go to Variety Village, but surprisingly few disabilities qualify. Forget it if you’re blind, have Down syndrome or can limp.

Most VV members must take the regular TTC routes touted by Mr. Webster.

In a letter to Mayor-elect Rob Ford, he extols the #12 Kingston Rd. bus. It “provides service to the rear of Variety Village … seven days per week, from about 5:30 a.m. until 1 a.m.

“This service is operated using accessible low-floor buses to accommodate people with mobility limitations or who use mobility devices.”

Sounds lovely, eh? What are those pesky cripples griping about?

Well, once someone with “mobility limitations” limps off that bus, he or she must cross busy Kingston Rd., then CLIMB BLOODY MOUNT EVEREST to get to the Village.

The “path” up from the bus stop is a menace even to an able-bodied oaf like me.

You need a Sherpa and oxygen. And, at night, a flashlight.

Hobble Hill (as I call it) is muddy and strewn with rocks and concrete. A ratty old mattress lies halfway up. Did the TTC put it there so kids could take a breather?

Bus stop to front door: 341 able-bodied man strides.

“We’d welcome someone from the TTC to come out and try to get up there in a wheelchair,” says Village exec Lynda Elmy.

Well, Mr. Webster?

Next up is the #69 Warden bus, which stops at Birchmount and Danforth. That’s 707 able-bodied man strides from the Village. A shade under half a mile. Try it with a walker in the dark in a blizzard.

“A friend of mine named Tom used to come to swim four, five times a week,” says Robert Hampson, 18. “He’d get off that bus and walk all that way in his leg braces. It took forever.”

Tom doesn’t come to swim anymore.

The #20 Cliffside meanders north of Variety Village and stops “five minutes” away, says Webster.

Five minutes? If you’re Usain Bolt. I didn’t bother walking it, because you have to cross a ditch.

Village staffer Katie Morrison, 25, tells me she’s had to rescue people whose wheelchairs got mired in muck.

To top it off, the lights to cross Danforth don’t beep for the blind. Sheesh. My neighbourhood has beeping signals so the hookers and drug dealers can cross safely.

I hope Mayor Ford kicks some TTC ass on this. Same for Councillor Karen Stintz, or whoever replaces hapless Adam Giambrone as transit chair.

For starters, make those lights beep.

Then extend the #69 to Variety Village and Birchmount Collegiate next door. There’s already a service road.

Then loop back to the current route. An extra five minutes.

Cost? I wish we had the $15,000 Giambrone spent on a swan-song video starring himself.

But a sign pole, shelter and maybe a shelf to rest canes and crutches won’t break the bank.

A Village bus stop will surely boost TTC business.

“Hundreds of people have told us they’d come more often if we had TTC,” say VV’s Elmy. “And it’s a stumbling block in trying to partner with places like Providence Centre and Toronto Rehab.

“A huge community of people are being prevented from realizing their full potential.”

Young Hampson, a national swim champ, relies on mom Cheryl to drive him. “I’d love to take a bus,” he says. “A lot of my friends would come here, too.

“But they can’t.”

SO GIVE ‘EM A FRIGGIN’ BUS STOP.




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