From CBC News
Ottawa city council decided Monday to increase the number of wheelchair-accessible taxi licences following a complaint from Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan.
During a visit to Ottawa in December, Sullivan, who is a quadriplegic, waited so long for one of Ottawa's 25 accessible taxis that he had to cancel an activity â€” an incident that Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien brought up at city council Monday.
But the problem goes far beyond Sullivan's complaint, city spokeswoman Linda Anderson told CBC News Online Tuesday.
"The mayor of Vancouver is not the only person who has found that, especially late at night, that they're not able to get an accessible taxicab," she said, adding that city staff worry wheelchair users may take a taxi to go out in the evening and then have trouble getting home again.
Council gave the city approval on Monday to issue 40 new accessible taxi licenses over the next few months, boosting the total number to 65.
In addition, city staff have been asked to review the program and come up with a way to deal with problems such as drivers who allegedly ignore calls from wheelchair users to pick up able-bodied passengers.
A city bylaw requires accessible taxi drivers to give wheelchair users priority, but Anderson, who manages bylaw enforcement for the city, said that is difficult to enforce right now.
She said it will be easier once the city requires all accessible taxis to be equipped with a GPS (global positioning system) in 2008.
In the meantime, she said, staff are looking for suggestions from industry and other stakeholders for how they might make the system more effective.
Staff are expected to report back to council in June.