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City again looking to add accessible taxi service

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Grande Prairie is giving accessible taxis another shot. Enforcement Services Manager Chris Manuel says in the past, attempts at having a consistent accessible service have failed.

“One of the challenges has been demand and making people aware that the service exists. We’ve learned some lessons in the past, and we want to work with industry moving forward just to make sure that we’ve closed the gap and everybody in the city has access to on-demand service.”

The City is looking at putting out an RFP for a local taxi broker this month that would include a monthly subsidy, as the cost can be substantially higher. Also included would be GPS tracking and interior video to protect vulnerable citizens. If the program goes through, it’s expected to cost $15,000 a year.

While there are taxis in Grande Prairie that can accommodate people with many disabilities, there are none right now that can take people who need to stay seated in their wheelchairs or scooters. However, Manuel says they aren’t looking to replace the Disabled Transportation Society.

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“It’s fully expected that taxi market rates will be paid by the users of the service. The DTS is a heavily subsidized rate, but it doesn’t provide the same level of on-demand service; it operates more like a bus service versus a taxi service. This is just one more option of transportation for people.”

It’s hoped the specialized vehicles will be on the road by this fall. All taxi brokers will have to refer calls that request an accessible cab to the provider.

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