More fuss about handydart.
But supposedly the average taxisaver ride costs translink $8 vs $30 for a handydart ride - then wouldn't it make sense to scrap handydart instead?
In the early 1990s, Bruce Chown, a manager at TransLink, envisioned a subsidized taxi program that would supplement the organization’s HandyDart service and provide seniors and the disabled with a cost-effective transportation option.
The ensuing TaxiSaver program, which was enthusiastically backed by the region’s taxi companies, allowed registered HandyDart users to receive the same-day, flexible and direct taxi service most take for granted for half the cost.
Twenty years later, Chown, now retired, has joined the fight to keep the popular program afloat as TransLink mulls a proposal to scrap it so that it can redirect an estimated $1.1 million in annual savings to its HandyDart service.
On Tuesday afternoon, Chown, 79, will voice his opposition to the proposal at a public forum sponsored by the Vancouver Seniors Advisory Committee and the City of Vancouver Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee.
The two groups have led the charge against TransLink’s proposed cuts, and Chown said he agrees that the plan makes no financial sense and will have a negative impact on the estimated 7,400 people who currently use it.
“We all know the population is aging and more and more people are going to be coming on needing that service,” he told The Province Monday. “It doesn’t make sense to scrap it. It is a good program that is working well. Frail seniors and people with disabilities need it and it should be continued because it is cost-effective.”
North Vancouver resident Monica Howell, who suffers from MS and is on disability assistance, agrees. She said she regularly uses the TaxiSaver program for grocery shopping, trips to the doctor and evenings out.
She also uses it for spontaneous outings, something not attainable through the HandyDart service, which requires advanced booking of two to three days.
“If the price of the cabs is doubled, there are going to be places that I can’t go,” she said. “I’m kind of a spur-of-the-moment kind of person. I would be stuck at home if I didn’t have it (the TaxiSaver program).”
Jill Weiss, chairwoman of the Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee, said she doesn’t understand why TransLink would cancel a program that is “win-win” for all parties and cheaper to operate than the HandyDart service.
According to 2010 data supplied by TransLink to the Canadian Urban Transit Authority, she said the average cost of a HandyDart ride is $30, compared to the average $8 it costs TransLink for a TaxiSaver ride where the user pays 50 per cent of the fare.
“The cancellation of the TaxiSaver Program doesn’t make human sense and it doesn’t make financial sense,” she said. “It is a really good system. It is good for people and it is good for TransLink and for taxpayers. It’s difficult to understand how they arrived at a decision that will provide less rides for the same amount of money.”
She encouraged everyone concerned with TransLink’s proposal to attend the forum, which will be held at the Community Centre Auditorium (870 Denman St.) from 1-4 p.m. TransLink board member Don Rose is among the scheduled speakers.