Wheelchair accessible taxi owners may be getting a break from City Hall in an effort to get more drivers to make wheelchair accessible trips a priority.
A report in front of the city's transportation committee recommends slashing the annual fee for wheelchair accessible taxis by $500, compensating taxi owners for converting cars to accommodate wheelchair access and expanding the Vehicles for Hire bylaw to collect seven cents from every non-accessible trip taken by taxi brokerages.
Currently only Transportation Network Companies (TNC's) such as Uber drivers pay seven cents per trip, which goes into a city fund to help pay for more accessible taxis in Saskatoon. The city has been collecting seven cents on every TNC trip since February 2019 and has kept these surcharges in an accessible taxi fund reserve.
On Dec. 17, 2018 City Council received a report analyzing taxi trip data. The city's administration has set a wait time target of 10 minutes or less for non-wheelchair accessible taxi service and the city found taxis met this target 81 per cent during the study period.
The city set the bar for wheelchair taxi rides at 15 minutes or less. The report showed only 57 per cent of wheelchair taxi trips met this target.
In an effort to encourage more wheelchair accessible taxis and trips, the city's administration recommends enhancing incentives for wheelchair taxi drivers and on Monday committee passed three recommendations.
The committee recommended lowering the annual fee for a wheelchair accessible taxi to $25 from $525; require taxi brokers whose taxi fleet has fewer than five per cent wheelchair accessible taxis pay a seven cent fee for every non-wheelchair accessible taxi trip; and provide a financial incentive of $940 to each of the 26 wheelchair accessible taxis, to compensate them for the cost of converting the vehicle to provide wheelchair accessible taxi service.
These recommendations will be reviewed by City Council later this month.