Accessible Taxi Refusal - Does This Happen To You?

WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Posts: 338Moderator Moderator
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Hello All

An article (link at bottom) was written in our Canadian news CBC this morning exposing what WE have experienced dozens of times in our city of Vancouver, BC - Accessible Taxis refusing disabled passengers, even though the vans are allocated specifically for people with disabilities to use. This can be due to a number of reasons, but usually it is to take able bodied groups a longer distance or pick up groups at the airport and use the wheelchair area for luggage. We have also heard that drivers can not be bothered to deal with the passenger needs of someone in a chair - its a "pain" to hook them up to the straps. 

In Vancouver, we do not have the popular ride share companies that most cities have. The taxi's union is very strong, and regardless of how many times we have signed petitions for the city to allow ride share like Uber and Lyft, it hasn't happened. The city just recently announced a plan to introduce ride sharing platforms this fall, which is very exciting. My husband and I plan on working as a driver with Uber in our spare time to put our accessible van to good use! They are needed as they are few and far between. 

In regards to taxis, there is no accountability. My husband and I barely take cabs anymore because of how long we have to wait for them, as soon as we mention that we have a disabled passenger. When my husband was at GF Strong, our local rehab hospital, we would wait for 3+ hours regularly for a cab to go out on our own personal time. Sometimes they wouldn't even show up. We have spoken with many drivers who DO show up and they agree with our issues - that cab drivers make decisions to pick up able bodied individuals who need to drive farther (increasing their fare) instead of following procedure and picking up those in wheelchairs. As many times as I have called to complain, nothing seems to happen, and it seems to get worse and worse. 

We personally find that the bus and public transit system here is unreliable, and because they're always so packed full of people, we find it is tough taking them to get around. With my husband's level of injury and the size of his chair, he needs a lot of support and room. When the bus is semi-full, its not easy to get enough space or help being tied down - and we do not like to draw attention to ourselves. We find we are at the mercy of everyone else, instead of being able to get around efficiently and on time. This system may work well for others, but for us and because we do have a choice, we would rather skip the wait times and crowds, and walk whenever we can to our destination together, or drive if we need it. We are looking forward to the day when ride shares come, and also looking forward to contribute to helping others get around with our van. 

Take a look at this article below and let us know what you think. There is now a potential for drivers to be charged a fine of us to 50,000 for refusing someone with a disability. This is great for new means of accountability, but doesnt change drivers attitudes toward the disabled and their needs when it comes to taxis. 

How do you find taxis in your cities? Do you find that there are different attitudes and wait times for people because they have a disability? Read the article and comment below.

- Brooke (WAGS of SCI) 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/wheelchair-accessible-taxis-vancouver-1.5234791

Your WAGS of SCI
(Elena and Brooke)

Comments

  • morranclanmorranclan Posts: 1Member
    First Comment
    Here I am meeting my youngest Grand Little for the first time.

    How can I send a video I made about my challenges with accessible taxis in Leduc?

    I use a Quantum Rival power chair with tilt, elevate and elevating leg rests.  The chair is very rugged, which I need for my missionary work, serving as a nurse at camps for disadvantaged kids and children & adults with special needs.  

    Because the Quantum is not really designed for indoor use, elevators are a huge challenge.  I cannot turn my chair around in most elevators.  If I go in backwards, I cannot reach the buttons.

    Entering places where the door is a right hand pull is very tricky.  I need to dangerously lean forward, grab the door with my right hand, drive backwards using my left hand on my right side controller, then manoeuvre my chair so the 10” balloon tires have made their 180 degree turn and drive in using my right hand and just sliding my chair alongside the open door.

    Doors that have the button or long bar beside the hinges side of the doors are tricky.  I need to get up close to the bar, bump it with my footrest, then back up quickly to allow the door to open.  Then the final trick is to get my big ballon tires to swivel sweetly, position my chair beside the open doors BEFORE it begins to close, and again, slide slowly along the door with my chair as it’s closing and I’m going through the doorway.  (I have a service dog who eliminates some of these steps, but not everyone does.  Not everyone has 10” balloon tires that act like 2 year old kids and choose to do things the way THEY want!)

    At a brand new facility, the button is on a 90 degree bar that comes out from the wall and fastens to the ground.  Great idea!  Very helpful in many places!  This is on the right side of the right door and the right door opens.  Now there are a few problems with this.  First of all, the ONLY access slope to the concrete slab level with the store floor is on the right side of this protruding bar.  All good, right?  You just WALK all the way from the gas pumps to the north side of the building, WALK up the slope from the north side of the concrete slab the store is built on.  The concrete slab the store is built on is at is lowest point, 8” from the paved parking lot.  Once you’ve paused enough times to get the energy to complete the long trek, you WALK or SQUEEZE your body past this brilliant arm that holds the button.  After you push the button, you step back for the door to open and land flat onto your back on pavement 8” below the raised concrete slab.  You then need to drag your body back off the ground so the clerk can gleefully open the door for you...then you WALK ALL the way back to the north side of the building, WALK all the way back to the entrance now that you are up on the 8” raised store level. You WALK past the bar. The clerk presses the button and you WALK in.

    Have you noticed I said WALK?!?  The bar holding the button is 6” from the edge of the 8” raised concrete slab the store was built on.  There is ONLY 1 access ramp!  It is impossible to squeeze even a toddler’s wheelchair between the bar holding the button and the 8” drop off down to the paved parking lot.  It’s difficult for the weak or elderly to swing their walker around thi bar...only for it to be hit by the opening door and send it flying down to the paved parking lot!

    It is 100% IMPOSSIBLE for ANY wheelchair to enter that store UNLESS like me, you park beside the raised concrete sidewalk, drop your ramp and chair onto it, then drive to the bar, hit the button, back up, let the door open, then very carefully make your turn into the open door without losing a wheel of a 450lbs chair off the narrow strip of concrete.

    BUT It’s accessible, they say!  I have begged the company to put a sloped access right in front of the door.  3 years later, all they did was cut the bar the button is on to now have 24” instead of 8” between the bar and the edge of the raised cement.  I need minimum 28”!

    The brand new ramp built to make our local post office accessible is built to code.  The very day it was built, while the carpenters were still there, I offered to pay the carpenters and pay for identical material out of my thin wallet, to re-model the ramp so I could use it.  It would have meant extending the turn of the ramp 6”, and adding a slope from the gravel driveway to the wood floor of the ramp.  The carpenters understood what was needed.  The owners refused.  Canada Post has authorized an employee to get my mail and bring it to my vehicle!  That’s the ONLY convenience store, the only place to send mail.  The next closest, which is much less accessible is 30 minutes drive. A properly accessible post office is a 40 minute drive!

    i have several daughters...2 in wheelchairs.  One of my daughters played university football on a men’s team. She’s a Sargent in the military...very fit, STRONG young woman!  It is impossible for her to get her sister’s tilite manual wheelchair onto the ramp, even after they flipped up the anti tippers!  BUT the ramp is “built to code”.

    In the winter, when the snow and ice packed down, it raised the ground level 6”.  Now I can get onto the ramp!  I was SOO excited!  I got to the turn in the ramp and got stuck.  I could not wiggle my Quantum Rival enough times to be able to make the turn halfway up the ramp, even with my footplates raised up and leg rests tucked in.  So I got out, crawled (sort of...an incomplete quad and complete para doesn’t crawl properly) to the door, banged on it to get someone to open it, and asked the firemen having coffee to help me.  There is no button on that very heavy door!

    They managed to get my chair back down the ramp, with the motor brakes turned off.  Well...I tried to be independent!

    At home, I have nurses that come in twice a day to help me with basic care, turning, positioning, etc.  They settle my body for a good night’s rest, then forget to leave my lift within reach for emergencies, and leave lights on!

    They frequently turn my fan or a/c off so they can hear me better, but forget to turn them back on!  In Manitoba, the temperature can vary 20 degrees in an hour. Many people with SCI’s have trouble regulating our body temperature.  If I could control my thermostat from my bed, or my lights, if I could communicate with someone ringing my doorbell...life would be far less complicated!  

    I have a service dog, but his duties are limited.  He can open the door, but  whoever knocked freaks out and runs. It’s not normal for a rep of a delivery company to be greeted by a dog!  I even have a sign on my door that informs people that an assistive service dog is inside.  Unfortunately I can’t teach him to turn a knob on the thermostat, or lamp, or a/c unit.  All my remotes have Velcro glued to them, so they hang on the wall beside my bed.  If I’m up in my recliner, he can jump onto my bed and grab the remote I asked for. I have a light hooked up to a Christmas tree light cord.  It has a switch along the cord...PERFECT for turning my beside lamp on & off.  There are new light bulbs that your phone can communicate with!

    If we’re in public, I can sling a tug rope over most door handles and my SD can usually pull the door far enough for me to help him.  He broke his last vertebrae before his tailbone when I broke C2, (I already had MS; and had been hit as a pedestrian by a drunk driver, so I already was a complete para at L1.) With my service dog’s bowel and bladder urgency, the limited use of his left leg, we are quite the team!  I don’t know how much longer he’ll be able to serve me.  I’m not well enough anymore to properly care for a new dog.  I need to start modernizing my home.  I can’t afford the basic equipment, though.

    I have a friend who can remotely adjust his thermostat from his phone, so his house will be warm by the time he gets home.  He has sensors to tell him if he’s using more water than normal (ie: flooding basement or busted water pipe) and if his furnace is running or not. He can turn lights on & off remotely, so if he’s away, he randomly switches varying lights on & off...same with his 2 tv’s.  He has special plugs for his electrical outlets to use to turn lamps on and off.  His home has many motion detective cameras with 2 way voice communication.

    If I could have a head start in adapting my home, it would be a tremendous help!
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