At a May 2 in-camera meeting, Translink decided to eliminate the TaxiSavers Program for seniors and people with disabilities in the Metro Vancouver area without any public consultation. On May 31, Translink was forced to back down because of the public outcry.
The TaxiSavers program permits people with disabilities and seniors to purchase taxi scripts at a 50 per cent discount. This provides people with disabilities and seniors the same flexible transportation options as other people at an affordable cost.
“CUPE BC and our Persons with Disabilities Working Group are very concerned about the future of the TaxiSaver program,” said CUPE President Barry O’Neil. “The loss of this program would have a devastating impact on seniors and people with disabilities who rely on TaxiSavers as an emergency or as their only form of transportation.”
Because HandyDart rides must be booked at least three to five days in advance, TaxiSavers provides those with disabilities and seniors more flexible transportation options. Many seniors and people with disabilities unable to use HandyDart due to their limitations will be particularly impacted by Translink’s decision to eliminate TaxiSavers.
CUPE members were on hand at the meeting to speak out against the cuts to this vital program. “We are heartened to see Translink reconsider its rash decision, but the future of this program is by no way secure,” said Deb Taylor, chair of the CUPE BC Persons With Disabilities Working Group. “CUPE will continue to advocate for the continuation of this vital and economical program.”
The TaxiSaver program is also an economical solution to transit needs. Translink reported a cost of $32.00 per ride on HandyDart and $14.00 per ride through TaxiSavers. Because users contribute 50 per cent of this cost, the real cost of a TaxiSaver ride is $7.00. Many seniors and people with disabilities are on fixed incomes with no hope of additional income and require a 50 per cent discount in order to access this program.
To learn more, and to get involved in the upcoming public consultation on this program, please contact Tria Donaldson at firstname.lastname@example.org.