The City of Winnipeg has launched a service that will enable wheelchair users to book rides with accessible vehicles from a number of taxi and private transportation providers.
The new service, a two-year pilot project called Winnipeg WAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle), was announced Wednesday.
Like other ride-booking services, users will be able to set their pickup and drop-off locations, and arrange rides from the nearest available vehicle, the city said in a news release.
They will be able to access the service through the mobile app, the city’s website or by calling 204-986-4WAV (204-986-4928).
This is something the Independent Living Resource Center has wanted to see for years, to make it easier for people with disabilities to live around.
The current Transit Plus service is not ideal because it requires pre-booking, says Patrick Stewart, advisor to the center.
With Transit Plus, the city’s public transportation service for people with disabilities, “you have to pre-book, you have to call a day or two in advance when you will be given the estimated time of the vehicle getting there,” he said.
“There’s a lot you can’t control because it’s public transportation, right?”
Meanwhile, people with mobility issues also often face longer wait times for cab or ride-hailing services that can meet their needs, Stewart said.
“Many others with disabilities experience waiting one to three hours for rides, or being told they have to pre-book rides 24 hours in advance. This was an exercise in the city for some time,” he said. ,” They said.
“You can imagine the frustration of trying to be a subscriber and using a publicly available service, and you not being able to get it.”
Stewart says he thinks the city’s new app is a step in the right direction toward making transportation services more accessible for people with disabilities.
The city is also encouraging drivers and owners of accessible vehicles to participate in the pilot project.
Drivers will be eligible for up to $2,250 per year and owners up to $2,500 per year. Drivers who own their own vehicles can use both financial incentives, the city’s news release said.
The $1.8 million pilot is being funded through a city vehicle for fare access surcharge. Depending on how well it does city-wise, it can be increased.