An 87-year-old Vancouver woman says she’s repeatedly been denied taxi service because she is trying to pay with “TaxiSaver” vouchers.
TaxiSavers are subsidized vouchers for people with disabilities and mobility issues who qualify to use HandyDART transportation. The vouchers allow passengers to travel by taxi at half price when their booking can’t be accommodated by HandyDART.
Global News has agreed not to identify the senior, who has osteoporosis and regularly relies on taxis as a means of transportation, because she fears she will be blacklisted by taxi companies for speaking out.
“It’s humiliating,” she said. “Just because people [have disabilities] doesn’t mean they should be treated like a second class citizens.”
She suggested the problem of drivers balking at payment with the vouchers has been ongoing,citing the Yellow Cab and Black Top and Checker taxi companies.
She described a recent instance in May when she said she was trying to get picked up outside St. Paul’s Hospital, when a Black Top cab pulled up.
“He asked me how I planned to pay, and I said, ‘Cab savers,’ and that was the end of it, and he said, ‘Sorry.’ He stayed there for about five minutes and then took off,” she said.
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She said in that instance, she complained to the company, who apologized and pledged it wouldn’t happen again.
But the woman told Global News that even when she’s not being denied service, she told Global News drivers aren’t shy about letting her know their feelings on the vouchers.
“When you pull out your cab saver book, and you’re counting so you don’t have to keep them waiting, they say, ‘Oh you’re paying by cab saver,’ you know, and they just don’t like it.”
Global News has requested comment from both Yellow Cab and Black Top and Checker, and will update this story with their responses.
Under B.C.’s Taxi Bill of Rights, drivers are not allowed to deny service based on payment type if the customer is paying with cash, accepted credit card or a TaxiSaver voucher.
B.C. Taxi Association spokesperson Mohan Kang said drivers know the rules around forms of payment.
“You can pay by charge, visa, you can pay by cash, TaxiSavers, you will be treated the same way, and nobody can be refused by paying with TaxiSavers,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter how you pay, the cab driver is bound to accept it and treat the customer with the same courtesy and respect, like anybody else.”
In some cases, Kang says cab drivers are legally allowed to ask people to pay up front, but that the request is usually made during late-night hours to prevent partygoers from riding and skipping payment.
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