Thompson’s 43rd taxi hit the streets Oct. 9, offering handicapped accessible service, which had been unavailable in Thompson for the past few months.
The new accessible taxi is affiliated with Orange Taxi, the city’s newest cab company.
The new licence was converted from one of the city’s two existing limousine licences in July, which was not assigned to anyone, because council wanted to create a taxi licence that would specifically require the operator to provide a vehicle accessible to people with physical disabilities. Previously, there were two accessible taxis in Thompson but the licences didn’t require them to use an accessible vehicle and they were converted back to regular taxis.
Bylaw changes made by council in July require the holder of the new accessible taxi licence to give priority service to anyone with a physical disability and to be available to dispatch from Monday to Sunday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
At the Oct. 8 public safety committee meeting, deputy mayor Les Ellsworth asked how it was decided who to award the new licence to.
Public safety manager Sonya Wiseman said 73 people holding active taxi driver licences put their names forward for the new licence and each was assigned a number. The numbers were then drawn from a bag, lottery style, in a a process that was recorded on video.
“I wanted to make sure that we were transparent in how it was done so if there were any questions later on that we did have a video to show,” Wiseman said.
Ellsworth said it would be good to have a written process outlining how such draws would be conducted in the future and that it might be advisable to have someone who isn’t employed by the city, such as a member of the clergy, to perform the draw.
“That brings integrity to the whole process, no interference, not suggesting there was whatsoever,’ said Ellsworth. “When you’re dealing with money, you’re dealing with elections, you’re dealing with that stuff, boy, there’s big camera on all of us.”