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City of Calgary announces new dispatch service for accessible taxis

The City of Calgary announced a new service for accessible taxis on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019.
The City of Calgary announced a new service for accessible taxis on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. Courtesy: City of Calgary

The City of Calgary announced a new service for accessible taxis on Wednesday.

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Calgary, a centralized dispatch service for on-demand accessible taxis, aims to reduce wait times for people who use wheelchairs.

WAVC will have one point of contact for customers to request an accessible taxi and dispatch the closest available one while providing approximate wait times.

“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,” said Abdul Rafih, acting manager of compliance services, in a news release.

WAVC 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. For WAVC, no pre-registration is required.

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In a news release, the city said it has issued 189 accessible taxi licences — but because drivers can pick up people who don’t use wheelchairs, it would often leave people who are disabled in the lurch. This would often prompt long waits and wheelchair users to call multiple taxi companies because there wouldn’t be accessible vehicles in their area.

“It’s been very frustrating for customers who rely on wheelchairs,” said Lauri Brunner, chair of the city’s Advisory Committee on Accessibility.

“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.”

Customers can book an accessible taxi by phone at 403-974-1110, with the app or online.