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Halifax wheelchair user says some taxi drivers take advantage of disabled passengers

HALIFAX – Accessible taxis are a blessing and a curse for Paul Vienneau.

The wheelchair user says while he’s grateful for the drivers, some of them try to take advantage of him by showing up with the meter already running.

“About a month ago, there were at least 3 times where this happened, and one of them, when the guy pulled into my driveway, it was up to five dollars already,” said Vienneau.

Vienneau says he noticed another incident when a taxi driver turned the meter on before helping him into the van.

“I’m paying for him fumbling with the straps to hook me in the van, and that could be an extra couple of dollars.”

Dave Buffett, the president of the Halifax Taxi Drivers Owners Association, says those incidents are “totally unacceptable.”

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“We have to arrive at the call, get the passenger in the car, or they get in on their own, say good morning, where you going, and then turn on the meter,” explains Buffett.

While HRM representatives say they haven’t received an increase in complaints, Buffett says he believes issues around rates and fares with accessible taxi drivers are on the rise.

“It’s increasingly common,” said Buffett. “We urge people to make sure the meter isn’t running until they start the journey, and if it is, say [to the driver] look shut [the meter] off, start it again and we’ll proceed from there.”

Buffett encourages passengers who experience a problem to contact 311 and report the incident, but adds the 3-digit rooflight number is crucial for the complaint to be processed.

“Without the rooflight number, there’s no point in even calling,” said Buffett.

Vienneau said he called 311 on Monday morning and submitted a complaint.

In Halifax, whether a cab is accessible or not, the initial rate when the meter turns on is $3.20, the fare after that is 13 cents every 76.7 meters.

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