Nova Scotia

Halifax rejects report suggesting more accessible taxis

The transportation committee has rejected a report saying Halifax should increase the number of accessible vans in the city's taxi fleet.

Proposed bylaw changes would have made 20% of Halifax taxi fleet accessible

The proposed changes would have meant that conventional taxi licences would no longer be issued, only accessible ones.

Halifax's transportation committee has killed a plan to issue licences to accessible taxis only, quashing the idea without sending it on to the regional council for consideration. 

City staff and an independent consultant recommended that the issuing of conventional cab licences stop and be replaced by licences for accessible vans only.

Right now there's a limit of 1,000 conventional taxi licences in Halifax, Dartmouth and the former county area. 

Conventional taxi licences are only re-issued when one is returned to the municipality or revoked, while accessibility licenses are issued on demand.

Under those rules, only 47 accessible vans are on the road. 

Issuing only accessible licenses would mean 20 per cent of the taxi fleet would be accessible by 2025, according to the study by Halifax Global Inc. consultant Peter Milley.

This change should not significantly impact the livelihood of those who currently work in the industry, the report said. Opening up accessible licences could also shorten the wait list, it said.

Seventy per cent of the taxi drivers the report surveyed said they believed the change would have a negative impact. The councillors on the transportation committee agreed with the drivers.

Change would hurt drivers: committee

"It has worked, this system here," regional Coun. Reg Rankin said. "The cap on the number of taxis [is] so you can provide a decent living for the ones who are in the industry." 

The committee members also were not convinced that more accessible vans are needed to provide service to those with disabilities. They said the Access-A-Bus system run by Halifax Transit has improved.

But the consultants said people with disabilities reported difficulty reserving the Access-A-Bus system. Twenty per cent of people with disabilities surveyed also reported long waits for accessible cabs, particularly outside the downtown core.

'Let's develop a passenger bill of rights'

Taxi industry representatives agreed with the move to kill the proposal, including Brian Herman, the president of Casino Taxi in Halifax.

"This is probably not the best thing to focus on right now," Herman said. "Let's develop a passenger bill of rights. Let's develop a driver bill of rights."   

Drivers said accessible vans can cost around $20,000.

The CBC's Pam Berman live blogged the transportation committee meeting.

Mobile users can read the live blog here. 

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