Hard to count on accessible taxis, buses

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Over the years, the quality of public services to individuals with physical disabilities in London has improved significantly. Improvements can still be made.

In transportation, the Forest City has three major private cab companies — Yellow Taxi, Blue Taxi and Green Taxi. Green Taxi has the most services for people with disabilities — 10 wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

But compared to the hundreds of taxis that are on the road for able-bodied people, this number seems rather minute.

A wheelchair-accessible van can cost approximately $50,000. “We are trying our best to obtain the necessary funding to add more accessible vans to our fleet,” said Huruy Woldemiceal, manager, Green Taxi.

Oftentimes when I take a wheelchair accessible taxi, I end up looking at my watch hoping it will arrive either on time or at all. Luckily, my wheelchair folds up and can fit in a cab’s trunk, so I can take either an accessible or able-bodied taxi.

But what about all those individuals who are in wheelchairs that don’t fold up or are battery-powered?

Voyageur is contracted by the city to provide Paratransit service. It has 38 buses and will increase its service to 40 by September. To be able to book a trip on Paratransit, one has to have either their doctor or a government official fill out a form indicating one’s physical condition.

Like the city’s other cab companies, Voyageur suffers from a lack of dependability. Oftentimes when I call to book a pickup time, the only time available is quite inconvenient.

Voyageur has an unusual policy where one is allowed to book their trip a maximum of three days in advance. Surprisingly, the company’s policy does not allow for same-day booking.

A significant advantage of Voyageur is the fact that it picks up a client at a desired location. Voyageur knows that its clients are on fixed income. A trip there and back costs two bus tickets or the equivalent of $4.

Another significant advantage of Voyageur, and one that makes it a pleasurable riding experience, is the fact that the buses are equipped with air conditioners.

Jon Higgins is a London resident.

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