Community members around B.C. who use wheelchairs or have other accessibility needs will soon have better access to taxis.
The B.C. government has announced that additional funding has been allocated to launch its Passenger Transportation Accessibility Program.
“The program will help offset the extra costs that taxi owner-operators face in providing wheelchair-accessible vehicles, which will help to increase the number of accessible taxis available,” Ministry of Transportation staff said in a release.
The minister of transportation, Rob Fleming, said the new program will help facilitate a stronger transportation system that will make it easier for those living with accessibility issues to get around their communities.
“Promoting equity in passenger transportation is an important way that we’re working to build a better, stronger future for all British Columbians,” he said.
“By investing in a more inclusive transportation network we are helping people participate more fully in their communities by connecting with friends, attending appointments and getting to work.”
Around $3 million of funding is available for the implementation of the program, according to the province.
Applications to join the program opened on Jan. 27.
The government said it is planning on launching three “additional funding streams” over the next two years that will focus on reducing the cost of operating, purchasing and converting wheelchair-accessible taxis and providing training to better support passengers who rely on them.
B.C.’s taxi industry said the new program is welcomed with open arms.
“One of the BC Taxi Association’s goals is to increase the number of accessible taxis on the road and this new program is going to do just that,” BC Taxi Association president Mohan Kang said.
“The funding will help our members with important retrofitting and maintenance costs so they can provide the important accessibility services people across the province depend on.”
The accessibility program will be funded using revenue collected from the per-trip fee that was implemented in September 2019 as part of the province’s efforts to introduce ride-hailing.
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