Provincial grants worth $2.6 million promises to improve transportation for British Columbians with accessibility challenges.
Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming said the grants will help 51 tax companies across the province reduce maintenance costs for nearly 400 wheelchair-accessible taxis.
“Reducing the costs of maintaining wheelchair-accessible taxis will keep existing vehicles on the road in good condition and encourage more supply,” Fleming said. “It will also make it easier for companies to recruit and retain drivers for these vehicles, making sure more people will have access to these specialized taxis province-wide.”
The Passenger Transportation Accessibility Program Maintenance Rebate launched in January 2023.
“These rebates are clearing the financial barriers that have created a real challenge to expand access for people with disabilities,” Dan Coulter, Minister of State for Infrastructure and Transit, said. He added that more people will have reliable transportation because of the grants.
Fleming’s ministry said in a release that government will launch additional programs to reduce the cost of operating, purchasing and converting wheelchair-accessible taxis and training drivers to better support passengers.
Neil Belanger, Chief Executive Officer of Indigenous Disability Canada/British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society, said the ability to access wheelchair-accessible taxis should never be a hit-and-miss endeavour.
“Inclusive and accessible communities always have access to reliable and accessible transportation for all people,” Belanger said. “The Passenger Transportation Accessibility Program, through its rebate initiative, is working to ensure that reality and, in doing so, recognizing the overwhelming contributions that persons with disabilities bring to all aspects of our communities.”
All 51 companies that applied received grants based on maintenance work already completed and the size of their respective wheelchair-accessible vehicle fleet. All eligible amounts that were requested were awarded.