Co-op Cabs celebrates 350,000 kilometres of accessibility in Toronto



    - Co-op Cabs marks first year success of TTC Pilot Project -

    TORONTO, March 3 /CNW/ - Co-op Cabs is celebrating the first year of a
successful pilot project with the TTC's Wheel-Trans initiative. The project
guarantees a portion of accessible rides to Co-op Cabs' drivers who are
trained to provide this service. It has also proven to be a strong incentive
for drivers, such as 25-year veteran George Rodda, who made a personal
investment of $55,000 to purchase a custom-made van. Through the program,
Rodda was able to use the van for an average of 9,180 rides per year.
    Increasing the quality of service to its Wheel-Trans customers was what
prompted the TTC to create a pilot project based on a co-operative model. As
part of the pilot project, Co-op Cabs arranged more than 110,000 TTC
Wheel-Trans rides, which is equivalent to 350,000 km, between March and
December 2007.
    "Together with experienced drivers like George, our goal is to provide
customers using wheelchairs or other assistance the same freedom to travel at
their convenience, without wait times, and at affordable fares. The TTC pilot
project's success this year will force the industry to improve service and
make the system economically viable," said Peter Zahakos, CEO and General
Manager of Co-op Cabs.
    There are more than 1.5 million people in Ontario living with a
disability, many of which rely on public transportation. For these people,
simply getting from point A to B can be a challenge, especially when only
4.8 per cent of Ontario's taxi fleet is accessible. Since 2005, Co-op Cabs has
pioneered the way for taxis to provide accessible service. Co-op Cabs
On-Demand Wheelchair Accessible Taxicab Service was a first for Toronto and
was saluted by the provincial government. The Co-Op Cabs Accessibility Program
was developed as a response to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act which was
enacted in 2005.
    The company also developed standards and guidelines for its accessibility
program that includes medical compensation packages for drivers, GPS
navigation tools to track vehicles both in real time and historically, a green
environmental policy, driver uniforms, identification badges, training manuals
along with a certification program for drivers, monthly van inspections and
surprise road spot checks. Co-op Cabs has also set up a separate accessible
taxi division within their company with a dedicated call centre and specially
trained customer service representatives for the job.
    Co-op Cabs is a member owned taxi co-operative whose members have been
providing taxi-cab services to the City of Toronto for over 50 years.





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