Vancouver City Councillor

Careful review of Translink data confirms sharp decline in trip denials with new taxi program

My post Thursday highlighting a 24 article reporting on a dramatic decline in trip denials since Translink supplemented HandyDart service with taxis was sharply challenged by Eric Doherty of the HandyDart Riders Alliance.

Translink achieved the improvement by redefining trip denials, Doherty told me in an e-mail, and a correction was warranted.

But Jill Weiss, indefatigable chair of the city’s Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee, kindly offered to check Translink’s numbers. There has been no redefinition of “trip denial,” she found, and customers of the HandyDart/taxi program have seen significant improvements since the taxi program began, regardless of which service measure is reviewed.

Writes Weiss:

“Please note that after the introduction of additional taxis (June 2014), trip denials, trip refusals and unaccommodated trips decreased dramatically.

  • Trip denials decreased 89-97% from June 2014 to November 2014, as compared to the same period in 2013;
  • Trip refusals decreased 54-69% from June 2014 to November 2014, as compared to same period in 2013;
  • Unaccommodated standby trips also decreased substantially, although the decrease isn’t as large: 16-39% decrease in unaccommodated standby trips from June 2014 to November 2014, as compared to the same period in 2013.

“TransLink provides summary data: Overall, for the period from June 2014 to November 2014 (as compared to June 2013 to November 2013)

  • Trip denials: 95.8% decrease
  • Trip refusals: 62.3% decrease
  • Unaccommodated standby trips: 28.5% decrease
  • Total decrease for all of the above combined: 74.4% decrease”

This is consistent with what I had heard anecdotally and has to be good news.

December 20, 2014 Bookmark and Share

New taxi service eliminates HandyDart trip denials, but Victoria allows only 20 new accessible cabs

Despite the runaway success of Translink’s new $1 million program to supplement HandyDart service with cabs, which  has virtually eliminated trip denials for people with disabilities, Victoria’s Passenger Transportation Board has rejected a proposal to add 78 new wheelchair accessible taxis (WATs) to Vancouver’s fleet.

(A trip denial occurs when a customer is unable to secure a return trip or is denied any booking at all because of high demand.)

The PTB ruled earlier this month that the Vancouver Taxi Association should only be allowed 20 new WATs, far short of the number the VTA estimated could be supported by increased demand.

The VTA had proposed to deploy the new cabs with a central despatch system across all four Vancouver companies to maximize efficiency and cab availability. But the PTB rejected evidence that users of wheelchair accessible cabs wait longer that regular customers — sometimes twice as long — to get a cab.

As a result, only 20 new cars were approved. When not required for people with disabilities, those additional cabs would have supplemented the conventional fleet.

That appears to be the sticking point: the PTB has approved 38 suburban cabs to operate in the downtown Vancouver entertainment district on weekend evenings, a move opposed by the VTA and now caught in the city’s moratorium on new licences pending a review of the taxi industry, including the possible entry of Uber.

One way or the other, taxi capacity seems bound to rise. That’s what customers, especially people with disabilities, are demanding. The PTB will soon have to find a way to confront all of these emerging realities.



December 18, 2014 Bookmark and Share

New CMHC survey shows rents rising, vacancies falling as tenants face tightening market

Thanks to Tom Durning, of the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, for forwarding this gloomy CMHC update on Vancouver’s rental housing market: rising rents and falling vacancies are creating a housing crunch for tenants.

Although Vancouver saw more than 200 new units completed last year, rising migration, a strong economy and the high cost of home ownership all combined to reduce rental vacancies.

A key finding of the CMHC study: the region’s new jobs tend to be lower-paying, underlining the “affordability” advantage of rental. It is remains much less expensive to rent a one or two-bedroom apartment than to buy one, despite low interest rates.

This all adds up to a heavy work agenda for the new Renters Advisory Committee approved by council yesterday, to be chaired by Councillor Tim Stevenson.

December 17, 2014 Bookmark and Share

Reality check: when it comes to public education, Greens oust Bacchus, pick NPA to run school board

Civic voters who cast ballots for Green Party candidates, thinking the Greens were generally aligned with Vision Vancouver, got a big reality check last night when Green school trustee Janet Fraser cast her deciding vote to reject top vote-getter Patty Bacchus as school board chair over NPA newcomer Christopher Richardson.

This was no random act by an experienced new trustee. Janet Fraser had the swing vote on a board with four Vision trustees and four NPA.

Local Green Party leader Adriane Carr was watching from the audience, as was NPA mayoral candidate Kirk Lapointe. Carr was personally involved in pre-meeting Green party exchanges with Vision trustees which left no doubt she opposed Bacchus as chair, even though Bacchus had topped the polls.

No wonder Lapointe tweeted his glee at Richardson’s win. The Greens gave the NPA an edge they did not earn at the polls, despite direct aid from the Vancouver Sun editorial board, which let the husband of Lapointe’s communications director write a scathing and misleading editorial denouncing Bacchus just days before the vote for her stand against Chevron funding.

What next for Fraser? A yes vote from the Green trustee to bring Big Oil into the classroom?

We know what the future holds for Bacchus. She has been the province’s leading advocate for public education and an outstanding leader of the fight to protect Vancouver’s schools from ever-deeper cuts. That won’t change.


December 9, 2014 Bookmark and Share