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“It’s crazy” for Councillors to discuss pedalcycles as Accessible Taxi program is imploding

Accessible Taxi drivers pay out of their own pockets to purchase and customize their vehicles in order to pick up fares with wheel chairs and walkers. Many have found their investment cannot be recouped before the vehicle ages out at 7 years. Photo: Beck Taxi

April 30, 2022 Update: GGL voted to approve up to 8 “pedal cycles.” The item will now go to Toronto Council for debate on May 11th.

“OhMyGod, that’s crazy!” Beck Taxi’s Kristine Hubbard exclaimed when asked about the practicality of 16-person pedalcycles in Toronto’s downtown core. This topic is being discussed at Toronto’s April 29 General Government and Licensing Committee meeting.

“Councillors actually have the time to discuss something like that? That’s crazy. Maybe they could spend talking about Accessible Taxis instead, and what the City plans to do when the whole Accessible vehicle program implodes.

“Maybe we could make sure every Accessible client who needs a ride makes it to every medical appointment on time first?” she suggested. “And then when that’s done, take time to talk about 16-person pedi-cycles?”

Toronto’s Accessible Taxi program faces a looming crisis, as the owner/drivers who paid approximately $50,000 out of their own pockets to put modified mini-vans on the road are now seeing their vehicles age out of the program at seven years.

Beck Taxi’s Kristine Hubbard

The cost of a customized vehicle has now risen to approximately $75,000 and fuel costs have skyrocketed, and an enormous number of Toronto’s Accessible Taxi drivers are opting not to invest in new vehicles.

Taxi News inquired as to the status of the Accessible Taxis program in light of the hundreds of Accessible vehicles due to age out of the system in the months ahead (“What is MLS’ plan for revisiting Accessible services in the months ahead? Is there a stakeholder consultation plan being designed? Are staff reviewing the status of existing programs?”), staff responded by sharing a link to the December 15th, 2021 Council minutes which details a great deal of research to be done but which never mentions the word “Accessible.”

“I have drivers whose Accessible vehicles have aged out of the program, who were using the special Accessible plate the City made available,” Hubbard points out. “Today, they can buy a plate for a few thousand dollars and a brand-new Toyota Camry, and have the whole thing wrapped up for $40,000.

“The sad part is, these guys actually LOVE the work, they love helping people, it makes them happy to do it. We are lucky to have them; but we have made it impossible for them to earn a living.

“What is Toronto’s plan to replace these drivers, and these Accessible vehicles?”