Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of BC (COSCO) and The BC Coalition of People with Disabilities (BCCPD)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 16, 2012

Groups oppose TransLink’s Plan To Eliminate TaxiSaver Program for HandyDART Users

Vancouver: TransLink’s Board has voted to eliminate the Taxi Saver Program which provides people who are registered HandyDART users a 50% subsidy for taxi rides. While timelines have yet to be finalized it appears that TaxiSaver coupons will not be accepted after June 2013 and that registrants after July 2012 will not be able to purchase them.

The Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of BC (COSCO) and the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities (BCCPD) are extremely disappointed that the program is slated to end. “This will definitely have a negative impact on seniors living on low income and frail seniors who use taxi savers,” said Lorraine Logan Vice President of COSCO.

BC Transit’s website explains that TaxiSavers “provide registered handyDART clients with greater convenience for spontaneous travel when HandyDART cannot accommodate their travel needs.” But at a meeting this week, TransLink representatives told COSCO, BCCPD and other stakeholders that it wants to eliminate the program and apply the savings to HandyDART so that it can provide more rides. TransLink said savings can be made because its records show that only 13% of TaxiSaver users ride on HandyDART.

Stakeholders pointed out that the decision does not make financial sense: people who use TaxiSavers pay half their taxi fare. By taking away the subsidy many will only use HandyDART which per ride is a more expensive option than taxis.

Lilo Ljubisic, a totally blind Paralympian said, “TaxiSavers are an essential lifeline that bridge the gap when regular transit and HandyDART can’t provide the support I need. I use TaxiSavers as a last resort as part of a blended approach for my transit needs. Eliminating this program will limit my independence and impact my confidence about getting around because knowing I can call a taxi when I need one makes me feel safe.”

“Many people with disabilities and seniors live in poverty,” said the BCCPD’s Jane Dyson. “We’re concerned that they will have less access to the community and that their quality of life will suffer. We are urging TransLink to re-think this cut.”

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For more information please contact:

Jane Dyson – 604-875-0188

New Initiative: Compliments and Concerns Phone Line Implemented by Vancouver Taxi Companies

May 4th 2012

Representatives from the BCCPD, Cerebral Palsy Association, CNIB, Vancouver’s Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee and the Council of Senior Citizens Organizations of BC recently began meeting with Vancouver’s taxi providers. The companies that provide taxi service in Vancouver are:

– Black Top Cabs
– MacLure’s Cabs
– Vancouver Taxi
– Yellow Cab

These companies invited BCCPD to meet with them to hear our ideas about serving people with disabilities and we invited other stakeholders to the table.

A positive initiative that has resulted from our meetings is the implementation by the four companies of a central phone line for users to register their compliments and concerns about the service they have received. This will enable the companies to hear directly from people with disabilities and seniors about what is working well and what needs some work.

The phone number is 604-215-0472. If you want to comment about a particular ride please try and have as many details about the trip as possible such as the taxi license number, date and time of the trip.

Surrey Leader - HandyDart service not keeping up to demand: Critics

Article by Jeff Nagel
Published May 2nd, 2012

Rising demand for HandyDart rides from the elderly and disabled who can’t easily take regular buses is outstripping TransLink’s ability to deliver the custom transit service, advocates warn.

“There are always more and more people needing to use the HandyDart,” said Jane Dyson, executive director of the B.C. Coalition for People with Disabilities.

But service levels are frozen at about 600,000 annual service hours – likely until 2015 – and TransLink is simultaneously under pressure to carve savings out of the program after an efficiency review.

The result: more passengers being denied rides or offered a one-way trip only but no guarantee of a return trip.

“They may be able to get a ride from Richmond to Vancouver but when they want to get back it’s very difficult,” Dyson said. “A ride one way is pretty useless if you can’t get back.”

She’s heard complaints from passengers who say up to half of their trip requests are denied because the system is over-subscribed, and that trips are getting longer as dispatchers organize trips to pick up more passengers than before.

“For people who have health conditions like bladder issues, or bowel issues or breathing issues, that can be very challenging,” Dyson said, adding it is undercutting the reliability and usability of the system.

“We have to remember this is a service for people with disabilities and seniors. There needs to be some understanding of that built into a budget system.”

To read more, visit this link: http://www.surreyleader.com/news/149906135.html