Accessible cab licenses a win-win

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

January 31, 2008 Ed Cartoon

In response to new provincial accessible transit regulations, which are expected in January 2009, Stephen Orser will put a proposal to London city council to allow controlled deregulation of wheelchair-accessible licenses.

It is hoped the new licenses will increase the number of accessible cabs. These cabs would not only service disabled persons, but also the general public.

Many disabled people complain about the unreliability and inconvenience of accessible transit in London; some have to book cabs days in advance to ensure a ride, which is not even a firm guarantee the cab will arrive â€" some cabs never show and leave customers stranded. There are only nine accessible cabs in London.

One could argue this proposal is a bandaid solution to accessible transit problems in the city. Rather than count on private enterprise, the municipal and provincial governments should invest in accessible public transit.

The London Transit Commission says it should be fully accessible in 10 years after it replaces old buses with wheelchair-accessible buses. With such a lengthy timeline, accessible cabs must bridge the accessible service gap. Although they are only one part of the accessible transit equation, they should alleviate some of the strain on the current system.

The license proposal not only benefits the disabled, but also cab drivers.

Currently, the number of taxi licenses is capped, which limits their supply, creates a long waiting list and forces drivers to lease cabs at roughly $8,000 a year from license owners, which happen to be cab companies like Aboutown.

It is hoped new licenses will allow drivers to escape high lease fees and become independent owners and operators â€" to remove the large cab companies’ stranglehold on the industry.

At first glance, it appears the license system will increase the number of accessible cabs in London.

However, there are still barriers for owner/operators to overcome: namely the cost of an accessible cab â€" which stands at $50,000-60,000 â€" the difficulty operating them and the increased time for each fare.

These barriers could discourage independents from getting a license.

These costs are much more bearable than leases, however, and there is adequate demand for accessible transit. Disabled persons would not be the only clients, so would senior citizens and the general public (as a secondary priority to the disabled).

Although the accessible cab license regime is not a complete solution to accessible transit, if properly drafted and implemented, it should solve some service complaints from customers and allow cab drivers to escape the jaws of the companies and work independently.

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette