Accessibility is like pregnancy; you’re either pregnant or you’re not. You’re either accessible or you’re not. A little bit accessible simply isn’t enough.
For years, the taxi industry has maintained that having an accessible option available is enough to meet accessibility standards. The average passenger can call a cab on demand or simply flag one down on the street. Passengers with disabilities can call a cab too (at least in some cities). However, they often must do so days, even weeks in advance, and be prepared to wait for hours if the vehicle doesn’t arrive at the appointed time.
To us, this is like a business that has a ramp at the front entrance, but requires advance booking in order to use it. Not really accessible, is it?
This issue has taken the limelight in the City of Toronto recently, thanks to a Taxi Industry Review earlier this month and the logistics of hosting the upcoming Para Pan Am Games in 2015. Proponents of the status quo maintain that there is no market for on-demand accessible taxi service, that customers simply aren’t requesting it. That argument stands in stark contrast to the experience of companies such as Bracebridge Taxi in Ontario and Dignity Taxi in Winnipeg, who state that they can’t keep up with demand since adding purpose-built accessible vehicles to their fleet. The more vehicles they add, the more demand increases. Could it be that customers in Toronto and elsewhere simply got tired of asking for a service that didn’t exist?
SCI Ontario has been leading the charge in Toronto, pushing for a taxi fleet that is 100% accessible to all passengers, 100% of the time. This policy makes sense not only from a customer service standpoint, but from an economic one as well. According to the Martin Prosperity Institute: