Last week we had to go to Vancouver. Ian has been diagnosed with cancer, and as part of this, we had to go to the BC Cancer Agency for him to have a PET scan, and then return to Kelowna the next day for appointments here for the rest of the week. To say we were feeling stressed is an understatement.
We were meant to travel in Winnie. We got as far as Merritt on the Friday, and Winnie said "this seems like a lovely place – I'll stay here!"
We had to quickly rearrange our plans, get one of Deefer and Lacey's favourite aunties to look after them, and find a wheelchair accessible hotel room for Monday night. The PET scan was at 3:30pm, so we had time to drive down on that day, so we would just stay on that night. Finding a wheelchair accessible room at late notice in the summer was tough, but we finally found one in Surrey just along 104 Ave to Surrey Central. This meant that Ian didn't have to drive in to Vancouver, as we could take a bus and the SkyTrain to the appointment.
Getting there went really smoothly. We got instructions from the concierge at the hotel on which buses to take to and from Surrey Central. Each time we have been on a bus, the drivers have been very helpful. For those who don't know, Surrey Central is a fairly big hub. We got on the Expo Line – I really don't understand it. The trains are older, and there's these labels on the doors with the wheelchair symbol. I got on, and all there is are places marked for people with disabilities and seniors to sit. I'm really not sure where I meant to park, so I ended up backed up to a door – which means that the backpack and pockets on the rear of my chair are exposed every time the doors open. I'm sure it's not meant to be like that?!?
Anyway, we got there, Ian had the scan, and we headed back, two very weary people. We got off at Surrey Central, and there was an "Out of Order" sign on the elevator. No instructions on what to do, no-one from Translink there to help, just a sign. We were kind of stunned. Tired, at the end of a long day, following a long weekend, and stressed to the max.
Luckily, there was another passenger in a wheelchair. She was a local, and she told us we had to get on the next train and get off at the next stop – which is the end of the line! She said that it happens all the time. While it was comforting that she knew what to do, it seems awful that she's used to it. And what if the elevator is out at the next stop too?!? The end of the line, literally and figuratively.
We got the train, got off at the next stop, and both of us got on our phones to work out which bus would get us to the hotel. Luckily, it was a pleasant summer evening, with actual sunshine rather than the usual Vancouver "sunshine". So yes, we survived, but we really didn't need it.
Presumably there's a customer service standard and presumably there's a procedure – but we didn't see either. Of course I have written to TransLink and I look forward to their reply. It's just another time when someone didn't think it through, and disabled people are left in a vulnerable situation.