New pilot project to provide on-demand accessible vehicles for hire in Winnipeg

CTV News file image of Winnipeg City Hall. (Zachary Kitchen/CTV News)

Winnipeg city council approved a pilot project on Thursday to make it easier for residents to find accessible, on-demand transportation.

The three-year pilot project, which is set to launch in the fall of 2021, is aimed at improving access to accessible vehicles for hire using an on-demand service called Winnipeg Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (Winnipeg WAV).

According to the city, this initiative will provide a “universal access point” for customers requesting accessible, on-demand transportation.

It will also improve wait times by increasing the industry's accessible vehicle capacity and by expanding service hours.

“We continue to hear from stakeholders that wait times for accessible on-demand transportation in Winnipeg are too long,” said Coun. Matt Allard, the chairperson for the standing policy committee on infrastructure renewal and public works, in a news release.

“Through the Winnipeg WAV pilot, I’m hopeful we’ll be able to improve service for the many people who rely on accessible on-demand transportation, while also removing some of the barriers for industry to provide that service.”

Accessible vehicle drivers and owners who participate in this initiative also have the opportunity to earn money – up to $2,250 a year for drivers and $2,500 a year for owners.

The city noted these financial incentives are meant to help owners with the costs associated with buying and maintaining an accessible vehicle and to assist drivers in operating an accessible vehicle.

The financial incentives will be based on customer service metrics, such as the number of trips provided, customer service ratings, trip acceptance rates, expanded hours of service, and passing inspections.

The city said the budget for the pilot project is $1.8 million. It is being funded through the existing accessibility surcharge on vehicle-for-hire trips.