Deomicia Du Preez of Scottsville in Kraaifontein talks of the frustration of using the City of Cape Town's Dial A Ride Service. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Some disabled users of the Dial-a-Ride (DAR) vehicle system say the public transport service has left them stranded.

Earlier this year, the City of Cape Town revealed that 20 vehicles were in operation, admitting that the system was “oversubscribed and under strain”.

However, only 13 vehicles are currently on the road.

City member of mayoral committee member for transport, Felicity Purchase, said: “We are expecting additional vehicles to be on the road within a few weeks once some repairs have been attended to.”

While people with disabilities living in Cape Town are able to book and schedule pick-ups and drop-offs at their homes through the Dial-A-Ride call centre, when the service doesn’t operate optimally it leaves many passengers stranded and with no alternative public transport.

This is just one of the reasons Deomicia du Preez has laid a complaint with the municipality about the service.

A week ago Du Preez, who is wheelchair-bound, was left stranded at Lentegeur Hospital when a Dial-A-Ride vehicle failed to pick her up.

“Last Friday I had a seating appointment for my new wheelchair and I had to be there at 8am but unfortunately Dial-A-Ride only got to me at 10.30am,” she said.

Du Preez said because she arrived late, staff had to scramble to help her and then waited with her until 6pm for the DAR vehicle to take her home.

She added that over the past few months, the public transport service had been so constrained they had stopped confirming appointments.

Meanwhile, Purchase said they were managing the service as best they could.

“The service has the capacity to transport approximately 2347 passengers (approximately 7700 trips per month) when it operates at its peak optimal levels,” said Purchase.

In August, the transport directorate re-established the Dial-a-Ride Forum to improve communication with users, as well as to further improve the passenger experience.

“The City has already facilitated two successful sessions with the DAR Forum and has committed to meeting once a month until the operational complaints have been resolved, and thereafter, once per quarter,” said Purchase.

Du Preez said she had heard many other complaints from fellow passengers about the current inefficiency of the service but many people were too scared to voice their concerns for fear of being sidelined by officials and left stranded with no transport options.

Weekend Argus