P.E.I. launches accessible taxi program

·2 min read
Marcia Carroll, executive director of the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities, would like to see four or five accessible taxis in the Charlottetown area. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC - image credit)
Marcia Carroll, executive director of the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities, would like to see four or five accessible taxis in the Charlottetown area. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC - image credit)

The P.E.I. government is hoping taxi drivers will take advantage of a new program to subsidize vehicles that are accessible for people who use wheelchairs.

The province announced the $95,000 rebate program last month, and the City of Charlottetown pitched in another $5,000 Tuesday. The rebate will cover 20 per cent of a vehicle's cost, up to a maximum $10,000 rebate.

Marcia Carroll, executive director of the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities, said in the past taxi companies have told her they've tried accessible taxis but they didn't get used, but she said it is about normalizing the service.

"When we first got public transportation, people would say, 'Oh, the buses are empty all the time,' and now public transportation is used at an extremely high rate in this province," said Carroll.

This accessible taxi, with space for a wheelchair in the back and seating for four, cost $57,000 new.
This accessible taxi, with space for a wheelchair in the back and seating for four, cost $57,000 new.(Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

"It may take some time. It's about a social marketing program, it's about changing behaviours and changing beliefs, and if you build it, they will come."

The lack of accessible taxis came into focus last year when a Charlottetown man almost found himself stranded on a cold winter's night when his own van broke down.

"It's a basic service. I mean, it is a human right to be able to move through your community," said Carroll.

"That's not been happening in this province."

Accessible taxis are a big investment. A new van displayed at the launch event Tuesday cost $57,000. Carroll said a used vehicle three or four years old can be had for under $30,000.

The program is available provincewide, but Carroll said Charlottetown is key to making the province more accessible. She would like to see four or five of the vehicles in the capital city area.

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