City announces launch of central dispatch service for accessible taxis
Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Calgary aims to put an end to long wait times for wheelchair users
The City of Calgary announced today the launch of a centralized dispatch service -- operating under the name WAV Calgary (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Calgary) -- for on-demand wheelchair accessible taxis. WAV Calgary will pool the services of all active licensed wheelchair accessible taxis and drivers operating in the city and provide customers with one point of contact to request an accessible taxi. WAV Calgary will dispatch the closest available accessible taxi, regardless of the taxi company, and provide approximate wait times to customers. The goal is to reduce wait times and improve service levels by providing customers with more accurate wait time information for the closest accessible taxi. Customers can contact WAV Calgary to book an accessible taxi via phone (403-974-1110), website (WAVCalgary.com) or app (available for both Android and Apple devices).
Abdul Rafih, acting manager, compliance services says this service is part of The City’s overall plan to improve taxi service for wheelchair users who cannot use non-accessible taxis.
“Wheelchair users take about 17,000 taxi trips a year, so they represent a sizable niche market for the taxi industry. Since these customers are paying the same metered rate as non-accessible users, we want to make sure they are getting the same level of service,” says Rafih.
Rafih also explains that this service is different than Calgary Transit Access, which provides pre-booked bus or shuttle services to pre-registered clients at the cost of a transit fare. The new service will address the long wait times wheelchair customers often experience. Although The City has issued 189 Accessible Taxi Plate Licences (ATPL), the drivers are not limited to picking up only wheelchair users. In the past, customers called individual taxi companies and would often wait over an hour as taxi companies did not always have a wheelchair accessible taxi in the vicinity. As a result, users would become frustrated, call multiple taxi companies and take the first vehicle that showed up.
Lauri Brunner, chair of The City’s Advisory Committee on Accessibility says this service will be a game changer.
“It’s been very frustrating for customers who rely on wheelchairs,” says Brunner. “The wait times were often long, and wheelchair customers have told us that there have been times when they’ve missed medical appointments or social activities. This is very good news for persons who use wheelchairs and mobility scooters and need a taxi 24/7.”
Rafih says no pre-registration is required so people who are temporary wheelchair users due to illness or injury can use the app, web or phone to call an on-demand wheelchair taxi. Accessible taxi drivers receive specialized training giving them the skills and knowledge to provide safe and respectful service to customers. Rafih urges customers to contact 311 with a compliment or complaint for this service and all complaints will be thoroughly investigated by Livery Transport Services.
Visit calgary.ca/accessiblevehicles for more information.