The City’s own accessibility and diversity co-ordinator gets the first ride
I’m Warren Rupnarain. I’m the accessibility and diversity co-ordinator at the City of Vaughan.
In my role, I am responsible for leading the advancement of accessibility and workplace diversity at the City of Vaughan.
Due to the nature of my disability, I am unable to drive. I rely on others to get me to where I need to be, and this is the case for many people with disabilities.
While there are accessible public transit options, I find it challenging to adhere to the set schedules. If I make last minute plans or I want to do something spontaneous, it’s not as easy for me to hail a cab on the street.
Just this month, Vaughan introduced the first accessible cab service available in York Region. Dispatched by the Astro Taxi Brokerage, this vehicle provides people with disabilities the freedom to travel — scheduled or spontaneously — and pay the meter rate, like anyone else. People with disabilities living in Vaughan, the Township of King and the City of Markham now have an accessible taxi on-demand. As I work with my accessibility committee peers across the municipalities, our hope is to have this taxi serve all of York Region.
The new accessible taxi service will provide service to people with all types of disabilities, not just people who have wheelchairs or scooters.
Safety is the utmost priority. The accessible taxi can accommodate a passenger in a wheelchair or scooter as well as other passengers. It also allows a person in a wheelchair or scooter to hook into retractors that provide safe and easy entry into the vehicle. The driver assists those with manual wheelchairs to get into and out of the taxi. Seat belts are installed throughout the taxi to ensure the wheelchair is strapped in securely.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) mandates that any municipality that licenses taxicabs determines the number of accessible taxis required in the community and that accessible taxis be provided at the meter rate. Before the AODA, an accessible taxi ride cost of minimum of $30 one way.
All Accessibility Taxi drivers are trained on how to provide accessible customer service to people with disabilities, as required by the AODA.
Vaughan has one accessible taxi operating in the City. An additional accessible taxi will be in operation by the end of August. Two more accessible taxis will be in operation by September and two more before the end of the year.
Vaughan’s Accessibility Plan is a commitment to providing the very best in program and service delivery. It’s our goal to create a fully accessible community by 2025. Regardless of ability levels, everyone has the right to access the many municipal resources that are available. And so with that in mind, the City will continue to explore, invest in and offer accessible programs and services and set the highest standards to support a vibrant and healthy community in Vaughan.
To learn more about Vaughan’s vision for accessibility, visit the Accessibility page.
Accessibility and diversity co-ordinator
City of Vaughan
Visit the City of Vaughan’s website at vaughan.ca.