Siblings miss Christmas party after accessible cab doesn’t show
Two Vancouver siblings are speaking out after they were forced to miss a Christmas party because the wheelchair-accessible cab they ordered never showed up.
Holly Millar told CTV News she was excited to bring her brother Kris Martell, a cancer patient who’s been in a wheelchair the past few months, to her work party at the ritzy Hyatt Regency Hotel last Friday.
She even bought a new dress that was on sale at The Bay.
“That’s the only Christmas party that we go to, so it was a big deal,” Millar said.
Just to be safe, Millar said she ordered a wheelchair-accessible cab three hours early using the Yellow Cab app. But when a cab arrived, the siblings were disappointed to see it was a standard sedan.
The driver said he’d put in another request for them and drove off – but a wheelchair-accessible taxi never came.
Millar said they called again and again, and tried reaching out to other cab companies, but help was nowhere in sight.
“I was so upset I think I might have said something about human rights violations,” she said.
“I felt abandoned and like we were the lowest common denominator. If he was able-bodied we would’ve been at the party without a problem.”
Martell said taking transit wasn’t a good option either. He’s fighting multiple myeloma with chemotherapy treatments, leaving his immune system compromised, and it was cold and rainy outside.
“It’s better to stay at a nice stable temperature,” Martell said, adding that he’s seen SkyTrain station elevators break down on a regular basis.
On Tuesday, Yellow Cab told CTV News it has apologized to Millar for the inconvenience.
“We take responsibility for this, 100 per cent,” general manager Carolyn Bauer said.
Bauer said the online booking came in with a note requesting a wheelchair-accessible cab, but the requester didn’t ask for an accessible cab on the actual form.
The request was automatically passed through to a regular driver, who radioed dispatch that a wheelchair-accessible cab was required after realizing the mix-up.
Bauer said that should have been a small hiccup, but instead of sending another cab, the dispatchers got confused because it appeared to them that a cab had been and gone. The problem wasn’t solved for hours.
It was an especially busy time, Bauer added, with Yellow Cab’s dispatchers handling about 200 calls an hour.
That cab crunch, an all-too familiar scenario with taxi-users in Vancouver, is one reason Millar believes it’s high time to let ridesharing company Uber start operating in the city. She said it could free up accessible taxis for the people who really need them.
“It was so obvious that there’s not enough cabs,” she said. “Maybe if they weren’t so protectionist over their own business, somebody like Uber could make a difference.”
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Jon Woodward