Autistic, intellectually disabled and dysphasic will get help riding the bus network
The Société de transport de Laval (STL) has launched a comprehensive new program and smartphone app, designed to provide real-time guidance to help reduce the anxiety sometimes experienced by special-needs bus passengers when they are using public transit.
The STL says the Compagnon program will empower users to travel more safely and become increasingly autonomous and confident as they make public transit a regular part of their active lifestyle.
The transit agency says its new program and app will help people in this category travel by themselves to their place of study or work, or to medical appointments.
According to the STL, for the time being the program is aimed at people 12 years and older living with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a mild intellectual disability (MID) or a language impairment (dysphasia).
CISSS and CSSL helped
Users of the program will be referred by an affiliated agency and must meet certain eligibility criteria, including having the ability to move around on their own. The STL says that the Centre des services scolaire de Laval (CSSL) and the CISSS de Laval, who provided input that helped create the program, deserve to be recognized for their contribution.
While the project has been running as a pilot for some years, the STL says it is now official and part of the STL’s regular operations. For now, a maximum of 10 active users will be accepted in the program at one time. Spaces will be then be reassigned to new users as they become available (registration required, available on Android only).
Some Compagnon features
The STL says the Compagnon program will have the following distinctive features:
- Customized and user-tailored routes;
- Monitoring by STL customer service agents;
- Guidance in collaboration with the partner organization’s stakeholders;
- Registered users only: user record with emergency contact in case of need;
- Possibility of free telephone loan for a trial period, as most of the young people targeted do not have one;
- Free first month of transportation.
Parents pleased by project
The STL says the project was made possible through funding granted by the Ministry of Transport of Quebec and the ministry’s Programme d’aide gouvernementale au transport collectif des personnes (PAGTCP).
“We are immensely pleased to have the privilege of promoting the Société de transports de Laval’s STL Compagnon program,” said Ingrid Falaise and Cédrik Reinhardt, stepmother and father of an autistic child. “As parents of an autistic teenager, we know how important it is to guide our child to success with independence, pride and dignity.
“We salute the STL’s ambition, their involvement in our society and their commitment to making a real difference in the development of people with special needs. Thank you to the STL for taking over and holding our children’s hands, if only for a bus ride.”
“This is a tremendous program full of promise that will foster the independence of young Laval residents living with functional or intellectual limitations,” said Laval Deputy Mayor Stéphane Boyer, who is also vice-president of the executive-committee and city councillor for Duvernay-Pont-Viau.
“This gives them greater freedom to use public transit with confidence and without any anxiety as they will always be supported by someone who can help them find their way should the need ever arise.
‘As parents of an autistic teenager, we know how important it is to guide our child to success with independence, pride and dignity,’ say Ingrid Falaise and Cédrik Reinhardt, stepmother and father of an autistic child
“This program is another innovation by the STL and like me, all Laval residents have every reason to be extremely proud of it, which meets our values of inclusive active mobility on our exceptional island.”
“This initiative is in line with the STL’s innovation values,” said Éric Morasse, president of the board of directors of the STL and city councillor for Saint-François.
Alternative to paratransit
“Empowering as many people as possible to include public transit in their travel habits is at the heart of our corporate mission, our strategic plan, and our universal accessibility plan,” added Morasse.
“It’s also a way to provide an alternative to paratransit for those who have the inclination and ability.”
“Promoting and enhancing public transit are priorities, much like access to this service for the greatest number of people,” said Quebec Transport Minister Chantal Rouleau.
“That’s why I am proud of the support provided by your government for this innovative project. There’s no doubt that the mobile app users will also feel a sense of pride when they get on an STL bus by themselves.”