Re: “Extra $1M for HandyDart plowed into taxis.”
The statement by Doug Kelsey, TransLink’s chief operating officer, that “recent taxi industry training has virtually eliminated past problems” with taxis replacing dedicated HandyDart drivers would be laughable if the issue was not so serious.
Similar quick-fix training programs for underpaid taxi drivers across North America have typically been resounding failures, with sometimes fatal consequences for vulnerable riders.
And the new taxi training program has not even been implemented outside the City of Vancouver.
The HandyDart service crisis is a direct result of provincial government decisions. When elected mayors and councillors sat on the TransLink board, they increased HandyDart service hours by about five per cent per year to keep up with demand. But after Premier Gordon Campbell imposed an appointed board in 2008, HandyDart service hours were frozen and HandyDart trip denials soared to 42,000 in 2013, an eight-fold increase in four years.
We are hopeful that the mayors will include a substantial and ongoing increase in door-to-door HandyDart service provided by dedicated drivers in the transit referendum package they are preparing.
We want a reason to campaign for the “yes” side in the upcoming transit funding referendum, and substandard curb-to-curb taxi service that endangers the most vulnerable HandyDart riders is not worth campaigning for.
Elizabeth McKellar and Tim Louis
HandyDart Riders’ Alliance co-coordinators