Via said its train would be accessible. This was not the case. So Have. wife, grandparents canceled trip

For a year, Brittany Prudhomme had planned to travel this summer by train with her grandparents, Hazel and Ken Luce, from Ingersoll, Ont., to Miramichi, New Brunswick, to visit family.

The couple use walkers, so Prudhomme had called Via ahead to make sure the train was accessible. Despite assurances from the railroad, this was not the case.

“I had called and made sure everything was accessible, talked about accessible bathrooms, made sure we had wheelchairs when we got to some of the bigger places,” Prudhomme said. , 27, of Thamesford, Ont.

“We got there, we were waiting and the train came and there were about five steep steps.”

Hazel, 85, and Ken, 88, of Hanover, Ont., can’t climb a number of stairs.

Knowing that we are still not an accessible country bothers me a lot,– Brittany Prudhomme of Thamesford, Ont.

“I asked, ‘How are we?'” Prudhomme said. “They said, ‘We don’t have anything for you guys to get on the train. “”

Via Rail’s website page for Ingersoll is also somewhat blurry, especially for people who don’t take the train regularly. He says the platform is wheelchair accessible, but goes on to say that there is no wheelchair lift.

The Via station in Ingersoll, Ont., the starting point of the planned trip to Miramichi, NB, for Brittany Prudhomme and her grandparents. (Submitted by Tim Lobzun)

When Prudhomme realized his grandparents wouldn’t be boarding the train, Via Rail agreed to call the trio in a taxi, hoping to get them to Union Station in Toronto in time for the next leg of their journey. .

They said taxi would be accessible.

“The taxi that arrived was a small Toyota car and there was no way to get into it.”

It was then that Prudhomme said they had decided to end a trip they had been planning for over a year.

“They were extremely upset,” Prudhomme said of his grandparents.

“Knowing that we’re still not an accessible country is extremely upsetting to me. And just to say that they can’t travel because it’s not accessible. It’s super disappointing and upsetting.”

Prudhomme, an educational assistant who works with children with disabilities, says she’s disappointed with Via’s accessibility issues. (Submitted by Brittany Prudhomme)

VIA Rail Response

Via Rail has fully reimbursed the family and, in an emailed statement to CBC News, the company said it regretted hearing about the situation.

“Via Rail Canada (Via Rail) is proud to be the first Crown corporation to file its 2022-2025 accessibility plan with the Government of Canada,” read the statement. “The company is committed to being the most accessible mode of national and intercity transportation in Canada and is driven by the idea that it’s time to create a barrier-free travel experience, from booking to destination.”

Via said it has also assembled a Universal Accessibility Advisory Committee, made up of “various groups that advocate for the rights of people with disabilities and will be instrumental in planning Via Rail’s future accessibility projects.”

Prudhomme with his grandparents at the Ingersoll Via Rail station before realizing the train was not accessible. (Submitted by Brittany Prudhomme)

This should be encouraging news for Jeff Preston, a disability rights advocate in London, Ont., who also teaches disability studies at Western University.

“In my experience, the train is the most accessible when traveling between major cities.”

“However, there are quite a few stops along the Windsor-Montreal route that are inaccessible, either because the platform itself is not wheelchair accessible or because the station does not have the platform. -elevating form necessary to go from the wagon to the platform,” he said. said.

“Like many services, it sometimes feels like Via approaches passengers with disabilities in a reactive way, as if it were a service for non-disabled people that has been modernized rather than viewing accessibility as an intrinsic or essential part of their service model.”

As for the family trip to Miramichi, Prudhomme isn’t sure they’ll book again.

“It really depends on my grandparents’ health,” she said.

“They were at a point where this could have been their last trip to New Brunswick, and it was taken away from them.”

London morning6:45The lack of accessibility to the VIA station forces the family to cancel their trip

Brittany Prudhomme took her elderly grandparents from Ingersoll to New Brunswick by train. When they arrived at the VIA station, they realized that the train was not accessible. Prudhomme tells London Morning that they were forced to cancel their trip.

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