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Taxis threaten to scrap accessible vehicles over ride-hailing dispute, vulnerable people caught in middle

Last Updated Jan 28, 2020 at 12:36 pm PST

(CityNews photo)
Summary

Taxi companies threaten to stop subsidizing accessible vehicles over dispute with ride-hailing company

Uber and Lyft do not have to have accessible vehicles on the road

Nine B.C. taxi companies filed a petition at the B.C. Supreme Court, asking it to quash ride-hailing licences

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) —┬áB.C. taxi companies have threatened to stop subsidizing accessible vehicles as their dispute with ride-hailing companies heats up, which could leave some vulnerable people without a way to get around.

Accessible taxis are more expensive to operate than standard vehicles, so companies typically offer some incentives to the people that drive them. Uber and Lyft, on the other hand, are not obligated to have accessible vehicles on the road. As a response, cab companies are calling it unfair and scrapping those incentives.

For wheelchair-bound Vincent Bull, who lives in Vancouver, it means the cabs he often relies on to get around will probably be harder to get.

“I think the taxi company should take a step back and think of the people and not think of their bottom line,” he says. “They’re trying to keep a monopoly on things and it’s really irritating.”

Bull relies on wheelchair-accessible taxis to make appointments and go to the grocery store.

“I just want them to provide the services that they are supposed to provide — to get customers from point A to point B whether we are in a chair, whether we are in a scooter, or whether we are able-bodied,” he says.

Bull expresses concern over his safety getting home at night without an accessible taxi. As it is now, he already waits ample time to even get an accessible taxi.

“Trying to get a hold of a taxi company with a wheelchair van is really difficult,” he says. “We wait four to five times longer waiting for a wheelchair accessible van because there aren’t as many of them.”

Nine B.C. taxi companies filed a petition at the B.C. Supreme Court, asking it to quash Uber and Lyft’s operating licence.

With files from Martin MacMahon and Lasia Kretzel