Victoria Wednesday, February 1, 2023, 11:15 AM
People who depend on wheelchair-accessible taxis often experience longer wait times or a lack of service. 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.
“Promoting equity in passenger transportation is an important way that we’re working to build a better, stronger future for all British Columbians,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “By investing in a more inclusive transportation network we’re helping people participate more fully in their communities by connecting with friends, attending appointments and getting to work.”
Approximately $3 million of funding is available for the first funding stream under this program, which will provide rebates to eligible taxi owner-operators for costs associated with maintaining their wheelchair-accessible taxis. Applications opened on Jan. 27, 2023: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/funding-engagement-permits/funding-grants/passenger-transportation-accessibility-program
Over the next two years, the ministry will launch three additional funding streams that will focus on reducing the cost of operating, purchasing and converting wheelchair-accessible taxis, and providing training to better support the passengers who rely on them.
“Supporting industry’s efforts to provide better, more timely services for people with accessibility needs help address barriers many people face every day,” said Dan Coulter, Minister of State for Infrastructure and Transit. “In line with our commitments under the Accessible British Columbia Act, this funding will help the industry meet the needs of clients and make getting around easier and safer for everyone.”
The launch of the Passenger Transportation Accessibility Program follows the passing of Bill 40 in the fall of 2022, which established new responsibilities and authority for the registrar of passenger transportation to support passenger transportation accessibility.
The accessibility program will be funded using revenues collected from the per-trip fee that came into effect in September 2019 as part of the Province’s efforts to introduce ride-hailing and modernize the taxi industry. The per-trip fee was created to offset the regulatory costs and impacts of enabling ride-hailing operations and to help alleviate the impact that ride-hailing has on the availability of wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
Unlike ride-hailing companies, taxi companies may be required as part of their operating licence to reserve a portion of their fleet for accessible vehicles.
Mohan Kang, president, BC Taxi Association –
“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. 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.”
Carolyn Bauer, spokesperson, Vancouver Taxi Association –
“With the removal of some financial barriers, this is a great opportunity for the industry here in Vancouver to get more people where they need to go. I look forward to supporting our members and working with the Province as PTAP gets going.”
Neil Belanger, CEO, BC Aboriginal Network of Disability Services –
“Disability impacts everyone, and everyone has a right to be an active and included member of their community. Service improvements that increase equity for all people requiring transportation accommodations not only make our communities a better place to live but British Columbia a more welcoming and accessible province. These improvements will make better services available to B.C.’s Indigenous peoples, who experience higher disability rates than the non-Indigenous population of our province. This is an important and vital step the Province is taking to improve the quality of life for some of British Columbia’s underserved populations.”