Thu, May 19, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Number of ‘barrier-free’ taxis have doubled: ministry

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The number of taxis in Taiwan that are equipped to carry disabled passengers has doubled since 2014, but it is still insufficient to meet a rising demand caused by an increase in the aging population, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday.

In 2014, the ministry began subsidizing taxi operators so they could purchase vehicles to offer a “barrier-free” service to disabled passengers. Since then, the number of taxis that are able to carry disabled passengers has grown from 196 in 2014 to 417.

The ministry has set a goal of raising the number to 500 by the end of this year.

Department of Railways and Highways Director-General Lin Chi-kuo (林繼國) said that the ministry is considering amending the regulations governing the appropriation of the subsidies to taxi operators to increase the incentive for taxi drivers, such as raising the subsidies for drivers to purchase appropriate cars.

According to a report published by the National Development Council in 2014, Taiwan is to officially become an aging society by 2018 and could even become an ultra-aging society by 2025.

The ministry yesterday presented the results of its program and invited taxi drivers and the service users to share their experiences.

Chan Wei- sheng (詹惟勝) is a taxi driver with Crown Taxi and has been carrying disabled passengers for three-and-a-half years. A father with two developmentally delayed children, Chan said that he understands what the family members of disabled passengers have been through, because he has to take his children to therapy sessions multiple times each month.

He said that it takes no more than 10 minutes to help passengers get into or out of his vehicle.

Chan said that while the service remains inaccessible to some disabled passengers, there should be enough cars to meet the demand.

“Most of the passengers who need to have dialysis or other medical treatment at hospital call for the service during the daytime, which leads to a shortage in ‘barrier-free’ taxis during certain hours of the day,” Chang said, adding that there should be a technical way to allocate the time more efficiently.

Lin Cheng-wei (林政緯), who became physically disabled in 2007, was told about the service when he was about to attend a singing contest at a television station.

“It was a typhoon day. I know the Rehabus in Taipei would be canceled. Somebody told me about the service and fortunately it was still available on a typhoon day,” he said.

While Lin managed to get to the studio in Taipei’s Nangang District (南港) in time for the recording of the show, he was afraid that he might not get a taxi to go back home.

“The taxi driver volunteered to wait for us, and he waited from 9:30pm to 12:30am,” Lin said.

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