Transportation is needed for self-advocates to be part of their communities and to attend meetings and medical appointments. At the 2014 Self-Advocacy Summit, we hosted a meeting with Transportation Ministry staff to talk about our concerns and their plan. Here is a summary of that meeting.

‘Let’s Talk about Transportation’
Discussion with Albertans with Disabilities

Facilitated by:
 Alan Windhorst, Alberta Transportation
 Brad Robertson and Colleen Huston, Disability Action Hall

On Saturday, June 14, 2014; twenty people with disabilities and supporters gathered together to talk about the 50 year Provincial Transportation Strategy.

We had an hour and a half to facilitate the discussion. We then split the hour and half meeting into 2 parts:  

Part 1: We facilitated a talk about people telling us where they are from and asked “What is transportation like where you live?” People reported to live in southern rural communities, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Calgary, Red Deer, Grande Prairie and shared their experiences of what transportation was like in the communities they live. 

Part 2:In the second part, Alan Windhorst then shared a short film and PowerPoint point about the draft vision, goals and suggested actions for the Alberta’s 50 year plan. The draft report can be found on the Alberta Transportation Website.

Here is what people said.

Part 1: Tell us where you are from and what is transportation like where you live?

1. Calgary:
  • Calgary Transit, so far, so good.
  • Transportation is pretty good for me, but people who use wheelchairs and other devices it is not that great.
  • We could do a lot better with waiting times, Sunday and winters are really unpredictable. People with disabilities and low-income; make it better.
  • Great city if you own a car or know someone who can drive you. Or if using Access, huge problem of affordability and availability.
  • Low-income transit pass $$ at $44 a month is expensive
  • And access, not a lot of buses.
  • C-trains, you have to go fast getting on and off. Trains and buses leave too fast, they don’t stop long enough.
  • The ACE Card (Access Calgary Extra) card is a ‘spontaneous taxi card’ to help go places. The Driver only knows the balance when it bounces. People sitting on edge of chair hoping to get home.
  • It is an electronic card that advocates fought hard to keep when the City took over ‘special needs taxi’ taxi service. Not all Access Calgary users get is as you have to be medically fragile, unsafe traveling at night or have a dementia or you get lost easily.
  • The card monthly balance use to be $90, but it was cut to around $ 40 when the city took over. More advocates fought to increase the monthly amount to $65 due to the size of Calgary.  It is good solution in smaller rural areas where there is no public transportation and only taxis.
  • It is an opportunity to use technology. 
  • But there is no phone number on the card to find out your balance.
  • It is a challenge- it would be helpful to find out the balance before you take a trip.
  • Steps to a c-train are too steep. No ramps in places. Ramp designs are no universal Take a long time. The new c-train designs also have less seats, and you have to stand more.
  • People don’t get up so you can sit down.
  • In Edmonton and in Calgary there is a campaign to be nice to people, be clean and not hog the seat with your backpack. (Alan - Alberta Transportation has heard many municipalities don’t have enough $ and need funding for public transit capital like LRT and buses, as well as funding to operate them.)
  • There are 4 doors on c-trains, but you can only use the 2 inner doors. It should be every door. Why aren’t all doors accessible?
  • Brentwood LRT, no ramp one day. Told to take bus. Could not get on the LRT.
  • Access Calgary waits on the phone, for a ½ hour to get an answer on my own personal cell phone, and the window of 20 minutes is not reasonable.
  • And why are alterations to a scheduled trip going on a wait list/cannot make an alteration, why?
  • Routes do not connect well from a BRT/LRT stop. It’s a good long walk to catch the buses and make sure connections meet on time.
  • Buses don’t come frequently and often take the train as I had bad experiences in winter using buses. Really tough.
  • I use the U-Pass as I go to university and the price is included in our student fees.
  • I am reliant on people to take me to the less accessible places in our City and outside of our City.
  • I would like to be in nature more and to go the mountains or inside the Calgary parks.
  • I usually walk or trike, but even using my trike I cannot ride downtown.
  • If transit is different, different ways to use alternative transportation.
  • Feel very marginalized.
  • There are over half a million people in Alberta with disabilities. 1 in 7 Albertans. Accessible, affordable public transportation around our province is needed.
  • It seems like there are two separate laws, one for cars and on for buses. It is not equal. On buses, we are treated like sardines.  We need 1 law, not 2 different laws and we need priorities for safety and to us to use private cars less and off the road.

 2. Calgary/Whitecourt:
  •  I am moving at the end of the month to Whitecourt. Right now I take the LRT and use the low-income transit bus pass. I buy a new one every month.
  • Annual bus pass/on-line smart card would help more convenient, not going far away/purchasing pass.

 3. Lethbridge:
  • Handibus can be not so well.
  • Have to make appointments in advance to go to Edmonton. Could be better.
  • I use a walker, some of the ramps and drop off points, they won’t put the ramp down sometimes – depends on the driver. As I use a walker. I’ve fallen and injured myself.
  • Sundays the service does not start until 8 am. You gotta walk, no late buses.
  • Got to get groceries. I have to walk. There a service; does not start
  • Have to wait an hour if I miss the bus.
  • Have to stop life by 6 pm.
  • Drunk people on the bus. Sometimes they bug me. People are mean to me. I know the driver’s names and I know the supervisor but I get sick of having to ask the driver to help. (Safety and being a target on bus).
  • In rush hour they try different buses.
  • Drivers are grumpy.
  • Bigger buses and sometimes they are smaller buses.
  • There are different sized for different vehicles and even natural gas buses to help us use less polluting vehicles.
  • Provincial Green trip funding helps with mass transit and getting cars off the road. 
  • Winter, ramps cannot lower ramp as snow in the way.
  • Buses are not full, yet the drivers say they are full and they go right past you. Or they say they are full and they are not. I walked two blocks and it was pretty windy with my walker. 
  • During rush hour impossible to get on due to full capacity, cannot get on.

 4. Lethbridge and surrounding rural communities:
  •  We don’t have a low-income transit pass, we pay full price. With limited income, disabilities, seniors and new-immigrants; Public transit does not reflect how people need to go and cabs are expensive.
  • There is no transportation system in rural communities; having to rely on staff or services like “Access-A-Ride” but have to work book a work week in advance- can’t just come out.
  • Smaller communities just don’t have public transportation.
  • Greyhound does not exist for Doctor appointments. Not spontaneous, planned. Can’t be part of community.
  • Handibus drivers get cranky if I don’t give enough notice.
  • I struggle just to get my bus pass out of my jacket, with my walker, especially in winter.

 5. Medicine Hat:
  • Greyhound use to go to Lethbridge. Now we need someone to take us. Now we take the Greyhound from Medicine Hat to Calgary, then we go to Lethbridge.
  • There is now a shuttle service. 
  • I don’t know much about special transit. I pay $ 65 a month- $ 2.75 a ride, but bus drivers move before I sit down.
  • Drivers can be unfriendly
  • Service does not reflect where we need to get to; I can’t go to Tiger games now. It is a $ 12 bus ride- no new transit until the new arena is done even though there are lots of houses around.
  • Now new transit manager is a little better.
  • They (buses) run late to pick them up.
  • Can’t get to work by 6 as transit service starts at 6:45 am and I can’t get to Tiger Games.
  • Glenda and I share a bus pass as I work out of town. I go to Elkwater where my work is, about an hour and ½ drive away (near Cypress Hills).
  • Share a bus pass when I am not home. (Affordability?)
  • Transit driver service and let us go on even though the pass is expired 2 days ago.
  • We walk a lot of places. (Because it is expensive and service is limited)

 6. Grande Prairie:
  • Shows free bus pass. All I have to do is how ID and my medical services card 2 times a month. It’s easy to apply.
  • Transit is free because they had a very good mayor fight for people.
  • Transit is free in Grande Prairie if you live on AISH, seniors have a different process.
  • And in Banff, transit is free if you are a senior, person with a disability or live on low-income.

Part 2: Alberta Transportation Strategy Update by Alan Windhorst

Alan Windhorst is the Senior Manager of Transportation Corridors, Alberta Transportation and has worked in the government department for the last seven years. Alan talked to us about the videos, radio & TV Ads telling Albertans to give input on the development of the 50-year Strategy, which asked about what needs to be the priorities for the Alberta Government. We saw the short video titled ‘Learn more about the Transportation Strategy for Alberta’ and it can be seen on this website.            

Here is what the website also says: 

"The Government of Alberta is developing a Transportation Strategy for Alberta that will provide a vision for Alberta’s transportation system over the next 50 years. The Strategy will cover all forms of transportation, connections and ways to move people and products. It will also provide an overarching direction to help guide decisions on transportation investments, policies and programs."

The Strategy is being developed based on input obtained from Albertans during two phases of public consultations held in early 2014.

During phase one, (January and February 2014) public consultation sessions were held in 18 communities throughout the province to seek input on the Strategy’s development. Written feedback was also submitted to Alberta Transportation for review. Input from phase one formed the foundation of the draft Strategy that was made available for review and comment during phase two.

During phase two, (April and May 2014) Albertans participated in an online public consultation about the draft Strategy. Albertans read the draft Strategy and provided their thoughts through a survey and/or an in-depth workbook. A facilitator’s handbook was made available for interested parties to host their own discussions and submit their input to Alberta Transportation. A comment box was provided on Alberta Transportation’s website to submit comments on the draft Strategy.

If we have any questions or would like additional information on the development of the Strategy, please contact or 780-641-9328 (dial 310-0000 first for toll-free access anywhere in Alberta).

Alan then showed us three draft slides titled ‘Proposed Vision, Recommended Goals, and Suggested Actions’ and said there are also printed copies of the draft Strategy, titled “Connecting Albertans with Each Other and the World: A Long-Term Transportation”.  

To see a list of all suggested actions, look at pages 8 to page 13 or the report. Full report

Our Proposed Vision: An integrated, cost-efficient, multi-modal transportation system that is safe, affordable, and accessible to all Albertans.

Alan then showed us the draft recommended goals:
  • Competitiveness, market access and economic growth.
  • Active communities
  • Connected communities.
  • Safety and Security
  • Innovation and Technology
  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Long-term sustainability.
Alan then shared with us the part of the draft plan for suggested actions for accessible transportation. However some of our commentary also includes issues about safety, affordability and sustainability. Found in various parts of the report from pages 8-13.

Suggested actions in the draft Strategy related to accessible transportation include:
  • Encourage municipalities to implement processes and build infrastructure that make their community accessible for all.
  • Implementing a barrier- free access policy and legislation to ensure all Albertans can physical access transportation services.
  • Working with municipalities to promote and or improve public transit.
  • Implementing best practices in providing reliable, accessible, and affordable and age friendly transit.
 Alan said many partners, including the federal government, the province, municipalities and industry, will have to work together to help address these actions - it needs a coordinated effort.

2012 Letter to Government

When the Alberta government stopped giving Greyhound money to serve small towns in Alberta, Greyhound stopped going there. Now many Albertans who do not have a car are stuck. AACT sent a letter to the Alberta Minister of Transportation about this problem.


  1. I am pwd"s and no income ,is there a transportation benefits for us(Pwd's) by the government of Alberta particularly Edmonton?
    I Hope someone reply me. Thanks

  2. Each town or city does its own thing. Grande Prairie does not charge people with an AISH card at all to use the bus. Calgary has a reduced fare for people who have a low income which does not depend on having a disability. AACT keeps telling the Alberta government that we need one plan for all Alberta because transportation is an issue affecting all of us. So far they have not listened to us on this.

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