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City committee supports proposal to help accessible taxi service in Saskatoon

WATCH: Proposal offers financial incentives for wheelchair accessible taxis in Saskatoon.

The City of Saskatoon‘s transportation committee is supporting a proposal that would offer financial incentives for wheelchair accessible taxis.

Since February 2019, the city has been collecting seven cents on every trip with a Transportation Network Company (TNC), like Uber.

The money is kept in a reserve and would be used to help in “off-setting some of the capital and operating costs of providing wheelchair accessible taxi service,” according to a city report.

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The report noted accessible taxis have added costs, such as higher purchase prices to install lifts and unpaid time securing passengers.

A previous study found just over half of wheelchair accessible taxis achieved a 15 minute, or less, wait time.

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Administration’s report offered multiple options for consideration — recommending a drop in the annual fee for an accessible taxi from $525 to $25.

Currently, the fee is the same as a regular cab.

Administration is also requesting a provision in the draft of the Vehicles for Hire bylaw — requiring taxi brokers whose fleet has less than five per cent accessible taxis to pay seven cents on every regular trip.

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Another recommendation includes offering an annual incentive to each of the 26 accessible taxi owners based on projected funds in the reserve.

The report notes the value of the incentive will not be known until the end of the year, depending on the number of TNC trips completed.

It projects, however, 408,000 trips in 2019 — the seven cent levy could generate up to $29,000.

The report highlights some disadvantages — saying the recommendations do not “directly impact driver behaviour or reward drivers and owners who actively respond to calls for accessible service.”

The proposed plan would also rely on drivers to “comply with bylaw obligations to prioritize wheelchair accessible taxi trips.”

The five-year average for wheelchair accessible trips is 14,000.

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The plan still needs approval from city council.