TaxiSaver service gets reprieve after outcry
Published Wednesday, May 30, 2012 5:38PM PDT
TransLink's TaxiSaver program could be spared from the chopping block after backlash from seniors and people with disabilities who use the program to receive discounts on taxi rides.
Earlier this month, the transit service announced that the program would be phased out beginning this summer, with the money saved re-invested into HandyDart services. But TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis said Wednesday that consultations will now be held before a final decision is made and Taxi Saver could be spared.
"We thought we had a full understanding of the issues. Clearly we don't. The reaction when it became known caused us to say we need to talk to more people," he said at TransLink's annual general meeting.
The program was introduced more than 20 years ago so that people with mobility problems can use a taxi at half the price if a HandyDart bus is not readily available.
Supporters of the program say TaxiSaver allows for last-minute trips, compared to HandyDart, which has to be booked in advance.
"Say they go to a doctor's appointment and that appointment runs late and their HandyDart bus is already passed and they're not able to get on a bus and they actually need to get somewhere," said Sheryl Burns of the B.C. Coalition of People with Disabilities.
Seniors also use the program. Lorraine Logan of the Council of Senior Citizens' Organization says there are concerns that cutting Taxi \Saver could lead to increased isolation.
"These are the people who just want to go and meet somebody for coffee, go to church, go to see their grandchild," Logan said.
"You get crowded buses, you get people afraid. If they've been jostled around they're not going to take that experience again and they're not going to tell their children."
The planned phase-out of the $1.1-million program is now on hold until the consultations are complete.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Maria Weisgarber