Intercity coach : the “To Accompany” card
05/12/2007 | 0 comments
The Quebec Bus Owners Association introduced a free travel card for those who accompany persons with restricted physical ability. This “To Accompany” card is valid on all intercity bus services in the province of Quebec.
- to make travel more affordable for persons with restricted physical ability and their attendants;
- to develop a travel attendant policy for all bus companies in Quebec;
- the long-term objective is to have the card recognized by all carriers across Canada.
The Quebec Bus Owners Association (QBOA) is a not-for-profit organization that has represented private businesses operating in the bus transportation sector in Quebec since 1926.
In June 1995, the intercity bus transportation industry offered uneven travel privileges for persons accompanying travellers with restricted physical ability. In fact, some customers preferred other modes of transportation because having to buy a ticket for the person accompanying them made the cost prohibitive.
In 1997, the QBOA announced the commissioning of 15 fully accessible coaches for travellers with restricted physical ability. The Quebec intercity bus system was finally opening up to passengers with all levels of disability, finally allowing them to use public transportation like all Quebecers.
The "To Accompany" travel card further enhances the network's accessibility by eliminating the fare for the person accompanying a person with restricted physical ability who is unable to travel alone. The ”To Accompany” card is meant for all persons with restricted physical ability over eight years of age who need to be accompanied on their intercity journeys.
The card is important because, although intercity coach transport is increasingly accessible to persons with restricted physical ability, there are still some limitations and some personal needs that carriers cannot meet. For these reasons, an accompanying person is essential for some travellers.
To qualify for the card, the accompanying person must be at least 14 years old and capable of providing the required care that is not normally provided by carrier staff. Participants must submit the completed form, with their photograph, to the Quebec Bus Owners Association QBOA, which will evaluate their eligibility and issue the card within four weeks. There are no charges for issuing the Quebec “To Accompany” card which is valid for five years. Before the expiration date, a renewal form is sent to the participants.
In 1995, the QBOA formed a committee to define what might be a fair, accessible and useful program based on need. Subsequently, it obtained from the Quebec Board for Disabled Persons the authority to query applicants about their disabilities and their needs. In August 1997, the program was in place.
The associations for the disabled were widely consulted and their recommendations make up the core of the agreement.
The QBOA has launched a wide-scale effort to maintain the support of participating carriers. In addition, the carriers and their association are committed to ensuring that the Quebec "To Accompany" card will be recognized by other Canadian associations of intercity coach carriers.
The “To Accompany” card is now part of the service offering of intercity bus carriers. As the QBOA is a key player, the card is recognized by all 27 member-companies.
The card has become a standard service that travellers with restricted physical ability and their attendants have come to expect and the card.
Main resources needed :
The QBOA supervises the program and has assigned one half-time secretary to the program. The only equipments needed are the cards and a plastic laminator.
The program is funded by the Quebec Bus Owners Association, the Quebec Board for Disabled Persons, the Quebec transport ministry, and by individual intercity carrier members. Ten associations representing persons with restricted physical ability have contributed to the introduction of the card, supplying their members with information on the program.
Key elements :
- partnership between the private and public sectors and organizations for persons with restricted physical ability;
- modest resources requirement.
Association des propriétaires d’autobus du Québec
225, boulevard Charest Est, bureau 107, Québec, Quebec
Canada, G1K 3G9
Fax: + 1-418-522-6455