Yellow Cab taxi driver Marcel Archambault is operating Charlottetown’s first wheelchair-accessible vehicle. The service is currently being offered 12 hours a day but will soon be on the road around the clock.
©Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
It’s going to be a lot easier for those in wheelchairs to get around in Charlottetown.
Yellow Cab has rolled out the first taxi designed to transport people in wheelchairs.
It cost in the neighbourhood of $25,000 to modify the minivan, enabling the driver to take two wheelchairs at any one time.
Kirby Eldershaw, who owns Yellow Cab, said it’s something that has been in the works for quite some time.
“I had been trying to a while but I didn’t want to start off with an old vehicle and have breakdowns. I wanted something a little newer,’’ Eldershaw, explaining that the van they’re using had been working in Summerside.
Marcel Archambault, who drives the wheelchair-accessible cab, says he’s averaged a call or two per day so far.
The taxi operates between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. right now but Eldershaw expects it will move to 24-hour service later this month.
Paul Cudmore, executive director of Spinal Cord Injury Prince Edward Island, says he’s been trying to get the service off the ground for the past four years.
“When I started working with Spinal Cord Injury P.E.I. that was one of my goals and it was one of the concerns people with a disability had, that we didn’t have a taxi service,’’ Cudmore said.
Pat and the Elephant has offered people in wheelchairs transportation in the province since 1975 but it’s a service that operates primarily on booking ahead of time. It operates between 7 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. year-round.
Cudmore said they were looking for a service that put them on a level playing field with the average joe - one they could call anytime if they needed a ride somewhere.
“We’d be getting calls from people coming into the airport, wondering if they could get a taxi. It was the one piece of transportation that was really missing. If something happens to your vehicle or if you just decide you want to go somewhere you can just call a cab and go,’’ Cudmore said.
Cudmore and Eldershaw stress they goal is not to compete with Pat and the Elephant or put it out of business. They merely want to enhance service to the disabled.
“Pat and the Elephant is a great service (but) it’s more of a scheduling service,’’ Cudmore said.
“It’s nice to have that little extra boost,’’ Eldershaw adds.
The owner of Yellow Cab hopes there will be enough demand for it in Charlottetown. The wheelchair-accessible cab is also being used for regular calls.