Monday, July 15, 2024
Today, Toronto's Accessible Advisory Committee will receive a presentation based on the premise the Accessible on Demand program can be revived. "It would need to be RESURRECTED, from the DEAD!" an outraged operator said this weekend. Image: City of Toronto
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Accessible Taxi on Demand: “It’s over”

Toronto maintains delusions, illusions over program it killed with Uber

RWN/Taxi News publisher Rita Smith

It makes me so sad to write that Toronto’s Accessible Taxi on Demand program has failed and is finished.

Staff are going to attend an Accessible Advisory Committee (TAAC) meeting at 9:30 today and present a slide full of fantasy fiction about how centralized dispatch and a $20,000 grant will revive the Accessible on Demand program. Committee members will likely feel excited and optimistic about how the new program will encourage courageous Taxi operators to cough up $100,000 for the privilege of transporting two or three fares per day. (Rideshares will get the other eight or nine runs they used to count on to keep their bills paid.)

I scoured through the slide package, posted to the City’s website with the meeting Agenda, looking for some of the information that the Taxi industry has provided over the past many years, months, and days. At the June 20 Vehicle for Hire Taxi stakeholder consultation, speaker after speaker after speaker attempted to explain to meeting organizers that there are so many VFHs on Toronto’s streets, no one can earn a living – never mind buy a new Accessible van.

The slide package makes no mention of the fact that the industry told Toronto, point blank blunt and in plain, clear language, that with open entry for Uber killed the program, and Uber does not provide Accessible on Demand services. Perhaps staff will amend their verbal presentation so that TAAC members will at least be working with current information; otherwise, everyone’s time is being wasted.

Over the weekend, I received painful phone calls from numerous committed Taxi industry members who were half-incredulous and half-grief stricken over the depths to which Toronto allowed the Accessible on Demand program to fall.

“It doesn’t need to be revived,” one exclaimed. “It would need to be RESURRECTED, from the DEAD, except that there are no operators who are going to pay to convert vans after Toronto allowed Uber to put 100,000 cars on the street.” Open entry for Uber killed the program, and Uber does not provide Accessible on Demand services.

When compared to Beck Taxi’s own numbers, Toronto’s count of Accessible plates is wildly optimistic. Hundreds of the plates counted by the City are “on the shelf,” not being driven because drivers cannot make enough money to keep their bills paid while rideshare drivers scoop three-quarters of the business. Image: City of Toronto

Also at this morning’s 9:30 TAAC meeting, Peter Athanasopoulos of Spinal Cord Injury Ontario will present his slide deck on the state of Accessible on Demand service. He will say that it is slow and unreliable when you can get service at all; that Toronto’s program has failed; and that an entirely new consultation designed purely for Accessible on Demand services needs to be organized.

And Peter Athanasopoulos will be 100 per cent correct. Open entry for Uber killed the program, and Uber does not provide Accessible on Demand services. It’s kind of surprising that Spinal Cord Injury Ontario does not highlight that fact more often, but these are confusing times.