I’m the parent of a child in Reykjavík who relies on Disabled People’s Transport Services (Akstursþjónusta Fatlaðs Fólks) to take her to school, to her after-school centre, and back home. Unfortunately, this service is woefully unreliable, lacking accountability, and plagued with chronic problems that hit low-income families the hardest. Some of their mistakes are so egregious that it feels like only a matter of time before a tragedy strikes.
I would be a very rich girl if I had 100 ISK for every time my daughter’s driving service cancelled one of her rides, dropped her off at mine or her mom’s home when we weren’t home, or brought her to school late. Neither of us can afford a car, and calling for taxis when these mishaps happen is expensive—as it is for all low-income families who rely on this service.
But we haven’t even had the worst of it. Recently, RÚV reported about how this same service left a six-year-old autistic boy locked alone in a service van for over three hours. And this isn’t even the first time it’s happened; disabled people have been “forgotten” and left sitting in these cars for hours last year, as well as in 2015—and those are only the situations that we know about.
Worst of all is the lack of an accountability process for either individual drivers or for the service as a whole. And parents and guardians can only take the City of Reykjavík’s word as they make repeated assurances that they are handling this matter. We have no means of filing grievances about the service or working through a process where someone is held responsible and makes amends.
All that we as parents of disabled children can do is hope, every single time our kids are picked up for school, is that the one service available to us won’t make a mistake today. The system needs to change—yesterday—before another family makes headlines because this service failed them.
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