Advocate believes London could ask better questions in accessible vehicles for hire survey

FILE PHOTO. Global News

A local advocate says he’s thrilled the city is looking into incentivizing accessible vehicles for hire, but he questions the city’s approach.

The City of London has launched an online survey to get public input on current accessible taxi options.

The survey includes questions about how often people require accessible taxi services, what time they’re normally required, and if such services are easy or difficult to find when needed.

Jeff Preston, advocate and assistant professor of disability studies at King’s University College, believes everyone has a complaint about the current system and so the approach should focus on what an ideal system would look like.

“Maybe a more important question for the city to be asking is: what things are you missing out on in your life, what are you choosing not to do because the service doesn’t work for you right now?” said Preston.

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“If we look into it from that perspective — what do people want to be able to do, not simply how is this working right now — I think you’re going to see a massive gap between the lives that people would like to live comparable to everybody else versus what we’re expected to live on with what we currently have access to.”

Preston also believes that current ridership levels do not reflect the actual need or demand in the city.

“In my experience working with the disabled population, it’s not uncommon that when something doesn’t work or if it’s not accessible, people simply do it themselves,” he said.

“They don’t necessarily complain, they don’t necessarily raise the issue, but rather, they simply opt out.”

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The city’s survey is available until the end of September. Afterwards, staff will use the results to inform plans to develop a program to mitigate the extra costs associated with an accessible taxi and encourage more accessible vehicles for hire.

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