A new accessible public transportation option has arrived in Bracebridge.
The vehicle arrived in Bracebridge on Monday, Jan. 21, and was put through its paces in a short demonstration before the town accessibility advisory committee. Known as an MPV van, committee member John Duck said the vehicle is the first of its kind in town, and that it is expected to begin offering an on-demand transportation service for locals with disabilities shortly.
“The service will be run on demand, meaning that if a person with disabilities needs it, they simply call any time and request this vehicle,” Duck said in a release. “The rates for the use of the van will be identical to that of a licensed taxicab in the Town of Bracebridge.”
He said the service is being offered as a partnership between Bracebridge Taxi and Community Living South Muskoka. But because the town has yet to grant an official licence allowing the MPV van to function as a taxi, Duck said the service will instead be offered as a “private transportation” or limousine service in the meantime.
“Hopefully, the licence for this taxicab will be forthcoming,” he said. “At that time, the limousine service will cease and it will be converted to taxi service with no real changes in operation.”
A licence for an accessible taxi was discussed last year, when local taxi operator Century Taxi left the industry, surrendering three of its licences back to the town. Those three licences, however, were awarded to ordinary cabs afterwards, and council learned it would need to create a new licence for an accessible taxi service.
There has yet to be a timeline for the accessible service’s launch.
Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, accessible cabs must charge passengers the same fares as other customers.
Duck says that once that special licence is acquired, Bracebridge will likely be the first municipality that meets provincial requirements for accessible, on-demand taxi service.