TaxiSaver program to stay following reversal of earlier TransLink decision
TransLink's board of directors has decided to keep the TaxiSaver program, reversing its earlier decision to eliminate the service that gives HandyDart users access to taxi rides at a discounted rate.
The move follows a public outcry from seniors and people with disabilities to TransLink’s original announcement in May that they planned to phase out the program.
“For the past several weeks, TransLink’s board and staff have been participating in meetings in the region to listen to concerns and discuss ideas,” TransLink Board Chair Nancy Olewiler said in a statement today (July 11).
“We have heard that the TaxiSaver program provides a valuable service to those in need, and is integral to making the transit system accessible for them.”
Jill Weiss, the chair of Vancouver's Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee, called today’s announcement from TransLink “wonderful”.
“It’s a wonderful example of… community in action, because this was completely un-orchestrated, it was a people’s uprising really,” she told the Straight by phone. “So it’s really wonderful that that can work, and it’s also wonderful that the TransLink board listened— it takes courage to reverse a decision, it takes courage to say you were wrong.”
The goal of TransLink’s original decision to phase out the program was to redirect funding from TaxiSavers to improve the HandyDart service, according to Olewiler. The board opted to put that decision on hold on May 30 to consult with stakeholders.
The TaxiSaver program, which was implemented in 1990, allows registered users to book taxi rides using coupons purchased at a 50 percent discount.
During a series of town hall forums organized by the advisory committee chaired by Weiss, as well as the Vancouver seniors advisory committee, many people with disabilities said the TaxiSaver program gives them the kind of independence and flexibility to book same-day trips that the HandyDart system doesn’t.
Weiss believes the TransLink board of directors took notice of the comments raised at these meetings, and in the large quantities of correspondence sent to the transit authority.
“I think the meetings absolutely had a very significant impact, and all the letters—they received really a lot of phone calls and letters and e-mails, and I think they read them,” she said.
Weiss said the committee will continue to work with TransLink to try to improve service for people with disabilities.
Olewiler said in the statement issued by TransLink that the board heard “many good ideas and suggestions on how to make overall custom transit services better for those who need it most” during the public consultations.
“We are committed to working closely with Access Transit’s Users’ Advisory Committee, persons with disabilities, seniors and other stakeholders from across the region on an ongoing basis to help find ways of improving these services,” she said.