The City of Winnipeg has launched a service that will enable wheelchair users to book rides with accessible vehicles from multiple taxi and personal transportation providers.
The new service, a two-year pilot project called Winnipeg WAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle), was announced on Wednesday.
Similar to other ride-booking services, users will be able to set their pickup and drop-off locations, and arrange for a ride from the nearest available vehicle, the city said in a news release.
They’ll be able to access the service through a mobile app, the city’s website, or by calling 204-986-4WAV (204-986-4928).
It’s something the Independent Living Resource Centre has wanted to see for years, in order to make it easier for those living with disabilities to get around.
The existing Transit Plus service isn’t ideal because it requires pre-booking, says Patrick Stewart, a consultant with the centre.
With Transit Plus, the city’s public transportation service for people with disabilities, “you’re going to have to pre-book, you have to call a day or two before you’re going to be given sort of an approximate time when the vehicle’s going to be there,” he said.
“There’s a lot that you can’t control because it is public transit, right?”
Meanwhile, people with mobility issues also often face long wait times for cabs or ride services that can meet their needs, Stewart said.
“The experience of many others with disabilities is waiting one to three hours for a ride, or being told that they have to pre-book a ride 24 hours in advance. That was a practice in the city for a while,” he said.
“You can imagine the frustration of trying to be a customer and use a publicly available service, and you’re just not able to get it.”
Stewart says he thinks the city’s new app is a step in the right direction toward making transportation services for people with disabilities more accessible.
The city is also offering accessible vehicle drivers and owners incentives to participate in the pilot project.
Drivers will be eligible for up to $2,250 per year, and owners for up to $2,500 per year. Drivers who own their vehicles can access both financial incentives, the city’s news release says.
The $1.8-million pilot is being funded through the city’s vehicle for hire accessibility surcharge. It could be extended based on how well it does, according to the city.
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