Bylaw to improve cab rides for people with disabilities

The proposed change to the taxi bylaw comes after a woman's death two and a half years ago.

Proposed changes would require Halifax drivers to go door to door

Troy Nauffts waits for a Metro Transit bus with his guide dog. (CBC)

Cab drivers in Halifax Regional Municipality may soon have to go that extra step when they're giving people with disabilities a ride. The proposed change to the taxi bylaw comes after a woman's death two and a half years ago.

Under the ammendment, cab drivers would have to escort people with disabilities to their doorstep.

"At least to the entrance, so they know where the entrance is," said Jerry Blumenthal, a councillor in HRM.

Troy Nauffts says many cab drivers won't stop because he has a seeing eye dog. (CBC)

In March 2010, Holly Bartlett, a 31-year-old blind woman, died after falling near her apartment by the MacKay Bridge. It's believed she became disoriented after getting out of a taxi and fell off a path.

Troy Nauftts is blind, and relies on a guide dog to get around. He sits on the city's accessibility committee. He said it's a struggle to catch a cab in Halifax.

"When I call and ask for a cab, I say I have a guide dog," he said. "That should give them a chance to tell their drivers."

But Nauftts said that is often not the case.

"They drive away," he said. "Or they come up and they say, 'No, I can't take your dog because I'm allergic'."

The changes will be debated at a council meeting Tuesday night.

Metro Transit also faces changes

Taxis aren't the only means of transportation facing changes to help people with disabilities.

Metro Transit is getting closer to a more comprehensive policy for service animals on its buses. It's asking other transit systems in North America how they deal with service animals.

Nauftts said Metro Transit needs to change the language in its current rules.

"They've always had guide dogs on the buses, but it's not only guide dogs, it's service animals." He said that can include animals that detect seizures and therapy dogs.

Metro Transit is expected to report back to the committee next month.