May 31 to June 6 is the National AccessAbility Week, a week that celebrates the valuable contributions of Canadians with disabilities and recognize the efforts of individuals, communities and workplaces that are actively working to remove barriers to accessibility and inclusion.
Erin Windross is the Manager of Access Transit Planning and Service Delivery (pictured on the right). Together with his team, Erin focuses on developing innovative initiatives to make transit system as inclusive and accessible as possible.
Erin Windross’ eyes light up when he talks about TransLink’s Universal Fare Gate Access Program. It’s already been more than two years since the launch of the Program, but his enthusiasm and passion are palpable. As the lead on the fare policy and eligibility policy development, he’s always delighted to hear how useful customers have found the Program and how it has allowed them to travel more independently.
“One of our goals at Access Transit – and ultimately one of the overall goals at TransLink – we want our customers to be as independent and self-sufficient as possible, to allow them to travel without needing to ask for assistance,” explains Erin. “We all share in wanting to make the system better for customers.”
After three years of working at TransLink, Erin feels like he’s hit a career sweet spot. Professionally, his interests in mobility and regional planning led him to a job at TransLink. But it was his dedication to equity and inclusion that made him a natural fit on the Access Transit team.
“I want to make sure people and communities are given the same access to services and we’re not overlooking anyone,” adds Erin. “I grew up with disability. I have two siblings who have fairly profound disabilities, so it’s always been a part of my life. It’s a great mix being able to combine my educational and personal background with my professional interests.”
In his current role as Manager of Access Transit Planning and Service Delivery, Erin’s work focuses on two key areas: delivering the recommendations set out in TransLink’s Custom Transit Service Delivery Review and developing forward-thinking initiatives that can make HandyDART better for our customers.
His team is committed to creating a transit system that is as inclusive and accessible as possible: “That to me is really at the core of what we do at Access Transit. We enable self-autonomy – for seniors who might feel isolated or for people with disabilities. We want to make sure that regardless of ability, people are able to go out, do the things they want with ease, access the places and communities they need, and live as fully realized human beings.”
One project that is keeping Erin busy is a new pilot program that is testing smaller HandyDART vehicles: “Our larger shuttle vehicles have some issues in terms of navigating through narrower, urban areas, so we’re currently collecting operator and customer feedback on smaller vehicles. We’re looking at whether any adjustments are required to right-size the vehicles for our service needs and make it better for both customers and operators while entering and exiting.”
The team is also exploring additional programs and platforms that will provide an easier, more convenient and more seamless travel experience for HandyDART customers across Metro Vancouver. Erin points out that with a smaller customer base, Access Transit can focus on fostering a more personalized, impactful service:
“HandyDART plays an integral role in many people’s lives. It’s a very personal experience we bring to the transit system. Operators are very involved in our customers’ lives. They meet them at their door, escort them to the vehicle, have conversations with them – it’s this level of personal outreach that really sets us apart from the rest of the organization.”
If you’d like to learn more about the accessibility programs and initiatives at TransLink that are making transit easy to use for as many people as possible, visit Accessible Transit.
Written by Rebecca Abel