School of Cities / Event

Knowledge Café: Improving accessible taxi services for drivers and disabled riders

Knowledge Cafe - Elyse Comeau

Having reliable access to transport is crucial to people’s ability to participate in everyday life. Drivers play a central role in providing accessible transit and paratransit services. They can facilitate people’s transport and mobility or cause them to experience inequitable and exclusionary transport. While the literature identifies an array of transport-related barriers and offers various insights into how people with disabilities experience different transport modes, remarkably little attention has been given to understanding drivers’ attitudes and actions toward disabled riders, and how disabled riders use and experience accessible taxis. For this reason, we conducted a study guided by two research questions: “What issues are disabled riders experiencing when using accessible taxis?”, and “What are the experiences and behaviours of accessible taxi drivers?”.

This presentation presents findings from a qualitative study involving a thematic analysis of the contents of 590 customer-reported complaints and 494 driver-reported incidents, all of which were provided by an accessible taxi brokerage in Toronto, Canada that is under contract to the city’s paratransit service. We identify several areas where accessible taxi services can be improved. These include flexible policies that better account for the needs of disabled riders, improved communication protocols, and greater engagement with disabled people when developing policies and operational changes. We also present recommendations for a three-pronged disability training program for accessible taxi drivers and other paratransit drivers.

About the Speaker

Élyse Comeau is a bilingual urban planner and third-year PhD Candidate in Planning at the University of Toronto. Her doctoral research focuses on the intersection of transportation planning and accessibility, with a particular focus on disability. She works as a research affiliate in the Engagement and Planning for Inclusive Communities (EPIC) Lab at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Élyse’s previous professional experience includes working as an urban planner for a Toronto-based land use planning consultancy.