A service started late last summer will soon be accessible to more people.

Starting May 4, one of the Royal University Hospital (RUH) Parkade Courtesy Shuttles will be fitted with a wheelchair accessible option, and drivers will have training to handle such requests for transportation seven days a week.

Saskatoon Health Region Courtesy Shuttles

Saskatoon Health Region Courtesy Shuttles

“We’re very excited to be able to add this option to our service,” said Trevor Yarmovich, Manager of Parking Operations and Grounds for Saskatoon Health Region.

While there is ample designated accessible parking at RUH, some people get confused about where those spots are located. They end up parking in non-designated areas and struggle to get to the building entrances. Others can get to one entrance, but end up needing to travel through the entire hospital to get to where they need to go.  Still others come into the hospital walking, but need to leave in a wheelchair. The shuttle provides a more graceful way for those people to return to their vehicle that is not in an accessible parking area.

“The new shuttle can take them right from their vehicle to the entrance closest to where they need to be, or from the hospital back to their vehicle,” Yarmovich stated.

Courtesy Shuttle drivers will be well prepared to assist those in wheelchairs. They have taken the Wheelchair and Occupant Restraint System Training program through United Cabs – a program for those who drive wheelchair ready cabs in Saskatoon – and each has a Class 4 license.

When calling to request a pick-up by the shuttle, those needing wheelchairs will need to specify that they require the wheelchair accessible shuttle, as only one of the vans is equipped for such requests.

The RUH Parkade Courtesy Shuttle service became operational last fall, available to patients and families parking on levels two through five within the RUH parkade.

Just like a New York taxi, patients and families can simply wave a shuttle down if they see it. A strobing light atop the shuttles will make them easy to identify. Pick-ups can also be requested by calling 306-514-7577. The driver will need to know where the pick-up is required, an approximate time, and the name of the patient.

The shuttles transport people from their vehicles to the new walk-in hospital entrance on level three, and back. They can also pick up/drop off people, upon request, to the old main entrance, Dubé Centre and Ellis Hall.

This service is invaluable to those with mobility issues who have to park on the upper levels of the parkade, where there is no elevator access.

The shuttle service is a temporary one, meant to alleviate some of the parking concerns that have arisen as a result of the construction of the new maternal and children’s hospital near RUH. Plans are to suspend the service once construction of the new hospital is complete in 2017, when a second entrance for both the Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan (CHS) and RUH will have been built with elevator access to all five levels of the parkade.

The shuttles run Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and on the weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Shuttles are not be available on statutory holidays at this time.