Photo submitted (L-R): Tane McLachlan (Recreational Therapy Practicum Student/Travel Trainer), Courtney Doherty (Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy Executive Intern), Rachel Henderson (Recreational Therapy Practicum Student/Travel Trainer)
Photo submitted (L-R): Tane McLachlan (Recreational Therapy Practicum Student/Travel Trainer), Courtney Doherty (Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy Executive Intern), Rachel Henderson (Recreational Therapy Practicum Student/Travel Trainer)

Making Public Transit Accessible in Saskatoon

Courtney Doherty, MPA student, is currently an executive intern at Access Transit with the City of Saskatoon.

My name is Courtney Doherty, and I am a Master of Public Administration student at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy’s University of Saskatchewan campus. I am currently an Executive Intern at Access Transit which is a part of the transportation and construction department within the City of Saskatoon. My mentors are Tracey Davis, Access Transit Manager, and Cory Shrigley, Customer Service Manager. I also had the pleasure to work with many others within Saskatoon Transit who supported me. Weekly, I would touch base with my mentor and attend senior management and national Canada Urban Transportation Association meetings.

As an Executive Intern for Access Transit, my main task was to further develop and implement the Experience Transit program which is a program designed to teach anyone how to plan trips, pay fares, board, and exit the bus, along with any additional skills needed for using the transit system in Saskatoon. The program required further research and resources to get it off the ground so in September 2021, my mentor advised me to have a clear understanding of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the role it has played in Canada. I also began researching existing travel training programs across Canada and finding the best practices of travel training from different municipal transit agencies to begin building on the existing framework for the program.

As the framework began to come together, more tools to complement the existing Experience Transit Handbook were needed. I incorporated a Travel Training Manual, multiple PowerPoint presentations, posters for advertising, audit trails for bus fares, and documents outlining every process within the program. Once the main elements of the program were in place, I began networking with organizations in Saskatoon to educate them about Saskatoon Transit and the recommended approaches to travel training, so that they can relay the information to their community. I was fortunate to present to over 10 organizations with the last one being Ronald McDonald House Charities. 

One of the main highlights of my internship was partnering with the Saskatchewan Polytechnic Recreational Therapy program head and coordinator to develop a travel training practicum placement for their students to gain real-world hands-on experience. This allowed me to take full responsibility and further develop my competencies as a professional tasked with supervising and evaluating practicum students. In addition, I was fortunate to visit nineteen grade 7/8 classrooms to teach students entering high school about the public transit system in Saskatoon. Throughout my internship, I have learned that public transit and travel training is more than teaching individuals how to ride the bus. The Experience Transit travel training program allows for a greater quality of life because transportation is a human right and essential for daily living. As an MPA student, the executive internship has equipped me with an invaluable experience because I had the pleasure to assist in eliminating travel barriers for individuals. 

My executive internship at Access Transit has provided me with the opportunity to learn from a senior manager and further develop my core competencies to create a strong foundation for my career in the public service. The courses offered at JSGS and the internship go hand in hand by providing students with the theoretical knowledge and the opportunity to apply what has been learned in class in real life. I strongly encourage every student to apply for the internship because you may discover new opportunities and areas of policy that you may have not considered before.

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