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'It just makes it a better city': Winnipeg’s accessible vehicle program could become permanent

Wnnipeg WAV

A pilot program aimed to cut down on wait time for wheelchair-accessible vehicles is being hailed a success by the City of Winnipeg – and could become permanent.

The Winnipeg Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle program (Winnipeg WAV) was launched two years ago, providing centralized booking through the collaboration of multiple taxi companies.

The 24/7 service allows users to set their pickup and drop-off locations, and Winnipeg WAV automatically selects the nearest available vehicle.

The rides can be ordered by phone or through the program’s app.

According to Gillingham, the initiative acts as a backup and alternative to transit plus service, and he’s immensely satisfied with its achievement.

“It’s been even more successful than we could have ever imagined,” said Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham.

In 2023, the program provided 13,123 wheelchair-accessible vehicle trips, more than triple the nearly 4,400 trips estimated in 2022.

This year it’s projected to provide over 20,000 trips.

Users seem to be enjoying the service - 95 per cent of passengers reported four or five-star service.

“Now that’s the kind of results I would like to see in all of our city programs,” said Gillingham.

The mayor also noted that Winnipeg WAV has had a significant effect on passenger wait times.

Ninety-three percent of passengers were either picked up early, or waited no more than 20 minutes for a cab, down from two-hour waits prior to the introduction of the program.

Manager of Vehicles for Hire Grant Heather said the initiative was created because the accessibility needs of the community were not previously being met.

“The inventory of available vehicles was far too low, ability to get rides was too difficult, and wait times were far too long,” Heather said.

The program also is intended to improve the quality of life for its users.

"It just improves things so much. Being able to get to medical appointments, work or school was always something that was accommodated. But it's the fact that you're now able to go out in the evening and get a ride home later in the evening - you're able to go to Jets games, Bomber’s games, restaurants, casinos. Things like that. I think it just makes it a better city,” Heather explained. 

Recommendations to make Winnipeg WAV a permanent program will be made to city council later this year. Top Stories

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