Taxis should no longer be allowed to charge $12.65 extra for an accessible cab ride in Winnipeg, says the first annual report on Winnipeg’s vehicle-for-hire industry.
“It is unfair to charge a premium fare for a service that is necessary for many passengers with accessibility requirements,” says the city report, which is on the Feb. 5 agenda of the infrastructure renewal and public works committee.
The number of vehicles for hire has increased by 400 since the province dissolved the Taxicab Board and handed responsibility for the industry to municipalities on March 1, 2018, says the report, which was made public this week.
The first year of regulation has been “generally successful,” with 400 more vehicles for hire on the road due to the licensing of personal transportation providers such as TappCar, the report says.
It includes a recommendation that the Winnipeg Parking Authority be allowed to add two new positions — a licensing co-ordinator and a licensing clerk — to avoid delays in issuing and processing licences. The $88,000 required for the change is available in the budget, so no additional funding is required to add the jobs, the report says.
A half-time position would be eliminated, so the number of full-time equivalent positions dedicated to managing the vehicle-for-hire bylaw would rise to 10 from 8.5.
The report also recommends requiring cabs to issue receipts upon request and to allow passengers to pay with credit cards, as well as new fines for offences such as tampering with safety equipment and failing to respond to passenger complaints.
The bylaw’s appeal board should be allowed the flexibility to consider factors such as the amount of time that has passed since an offence in making a decision, the report says.
It also says taxi dispatchers with more than 50 vehicles should be required to have 10 per cent of their standard vehicles and at least one accessible vehicle available at all times.
Accessibility issues are addressed in several parts of the report, which says an additional 60 accessible taxicab licences were issued Dec. 1.
The vehicle-for-hire bylaw bylaw should be updated to outline the proper way to secure wheelchairs or mobility aids and passengers who use them, fixing the bylaw so it no longer exempts accessible taxis from the requirement to have an in-vehicle camera, the report says.
An online survey was filled out by 23 people who require accessible service, and eight of them weren’t satisfied with the industry, the report says.
A total of 460 people — 330 of them passengers — responded to the survey in fall. It was done to allow public feedback and isn’t representative of the city population.
Among the 40 drivers to did the survey, 30 felt safe most of the time. Among the 460 people who filled out the survey, 310 said they feel vehicles for hire in Winnipeg are safe.