Seniors and people with disabilities are outraged that TransLink plans to eliminate the TaxiSaver program—a service that allows registered HandyDart users to receive a 50 per cent discount on taxi rides.

The program was introduced more than 20 years ago so that HandyDart users can use a taxi if a HandyDart is not readily available. However, it will be phased out starting in August, and the money saved will be re-invested to increase HandyDart services, said Heath McCain, Chair of the Access Transit Users' Advisory Committee in a written statement.

TransLink estimates that the cost savings would allow the transit authority to fill an additional 19,900 HandyDart requests.

However, Jill Weiss, chair of the City of Vancouver's Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee, said eliminating TaxiSaver means seniors and those with disabilities will no longer be able to access same-day services.

"If you want to go somewhere on the same day, there are no rides available," she said. "If you're running a fever you can't go to the doctor. If somebody invites you to dinner you can't accept it. This takes away the small semblance of normalcy that we have to travel in the city and at least some independence and ability to get around."

Laura Mackenrot, who is visually impaired, says she uses the TaxiSaver program when she is denied a ride from HandyDart. She says with the 50 per cent-discount gone, not only will she now have to watch her spending, her independence will also be taken away.

"The cost of having to take a taxi can add quite a lot to your expenses," she said. "That just kind of tips it over the edge for a lot of people…I think they'll just have to say no to friends and family and stay inside and be more home-bound, and I think that's very disappointing."

With files from CTV British Columbia's Maria Weisgarber