The fight between taxi firms and ridesharing companies may now harm some innocent victims – disabled people in the Lower Mainland.
Taxi firms are threatening to slash the subsidy paid to the drivers of accessible cabs, those that come with lifts for users of wheelchairs and scooters.
Getting around Metro Vancouver can be extraordinarily difficult for people with mobility issues. HandyDART buses must be requested well ahead of time and may not be available. Regular public transit may be accessible, but is not always convenient. A percentage of cabs are accessible – but only a percentage, resulting in longer waits.
Keep in mind that the cost of a private vehicle retrofitted with a ramp or wheelchair lift and other modifications can easily be double or triple the cost of an unmodified vehicle.
If the best aspect of ridesharing apps promised to be low costs and convenience, the worst aspect was that they would not be required to accommodate disabled customers.
The province imposed a small fee on each ride to help pay for better accessible transit, but it’s unclear as yet where that money will be spent, or if enough will be raised from the 30 cent per trip charge to generate a useful amount of revenue.
Now, with Uber and Lyft doing nothing for disabled riders, the taxi industry has apparently decided to turn on its most vulnerable customers and make their lives more difficult.
This is unjustifiable. It’s the worst possible response the taxi industry could have made in this situation. The provincial government should intervene to ensure that transport options remain in place for disabled people.