Accessible taxi in Upper Trinity
People with disabilities advocate says transportation a problem in rural areas
Jovanax Taxi in Dildo recently unveiled a brand new accessible taxi equipped to hold as many as two passengers using wheelchairs. The purchase was partially funded by the provincial government, and an advocate for people with disabilities says services like this are much needed in rural areas.
A taxi company in Dildo is now equipped to more easily serve people who find it hard to catch a ride in most vehicles.
Through the provincial government’s accessible taxi pilot project, Jovanax Taxi received a $25,000 grant to go towards the purchase of a new $43,000 van equipped with a ramp.
It can comfortably fit two wheelchairs and an additional passenger, or three passengers with one wheelchair.
Owner William “Bill” Newhook has a few clients who use wheelchairs, and it was plain as day to see how difficult it was for them to get around.
“I’ve had three or four clients myself (where) we were trying to help the parents move them from the chair to the van and back again. They had no other way, and it was obvious it wasn’t right … We had to find a proper way to do it.”
Jovanax is now one of five companies to take part in the pilot project since it was first launched last year.
Newhook looked at acquiring a wheelchair accessible van and managed to prepare a grant proposal just before the most recent deadline. His proposal included letters of support from local town councils and a petition.
Over the course of conducting research for the proposal, Newhook found there were even more people in the area who could make use of such a service.
“I’m looking forward to serving the people. I think it’s going to be a great benefit for our local area, as well as long-distance runs for people in the surrounding area.”
Kelly White, executive director of the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities, says the need for accessible transportation is widespread.
“To have accessible transportation is freedom,” White told The Compass. “To be able to decide when you want to go somewhere, whether it be to mass, to church, to an outing, to a friend’s house — the ability to call a taxi and get there is just unbelievable to a person who hasn’t had that option before.”
White said rural communities in particular are underserved when it comes to accessible transportation. The City of St. John’s supports the GoBus Accessible Transit Service, and there are cab companies in the city with accessible taxis operating.
“The need is great in every rural community, and I’m certainly pleased that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has been providing these grants to help taxi owners retrofit in order to accommodate persons with disabilities,” said White.
Jovanax Taxi serves communities from Whitbourne to Whiteway, though the company does make trips throughout the Avalon region. The cost for a passenger in a wheelchair will be no different from any other charged customer, according to Newhook.
This accessible taxi has a ramp that folds out from the back of the van. The vehicle can accommodate two wheelchair customers at once.
Jovanax Taxi owner William Newhook believes his new accessible taxi will benefit people in the Trinity South area.