Kaohsiung City Wheelchair-Accessible Taxis (WATs) Near 100, Providing People with Disabilities More Accessible Transportation Services
Transportation Bureau,Kaohsiung City Government
Kaohsiung City currently has 34 WATs available for service on the road. By the end of this year, 60 vehicles will be in operation, and the number will reach 100 vehicles next year. This will form a network of accessible transportation services. This year the Kaohsiung City Government Transportation Bureau will fight for the national Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) to sponser the production of 60 WATs, which will then be put into operation by the taxi companies M-Taxi, Taiwan Taxi, KS Taxi, and Crown Taxi. This will provide those with movement disabilities with a full range of transportation services. The Transportation Bureau has also joined up with the iPass Company to allow iPass cards to be used in WATs, with WAT users getting a NTD5 discount. Since its enthusiastic response from eligible users after the program began, transactions for the "Those-in-Need " card went up 187%. In the future this discount progam will continue to be promoted so that the public can make even more use of it.
Chen Ching-Fu, Director-General of the Transportation Bureau stated that Kaohsiung City has around 139,000 physically or mentally disabled people, and in order to allow disable people to have "unhindered transportation," Kaohsiung City's Rehab Buses have increased to 140 vehicles thanks to generous public and private donations, along with low-floor buses now reaching 186 vehicles. This provides the physically disabled with more transportation options to choose from and effectively eases Kaohsiung City's Rehab Bus transportation demands. The Transportation Bureau shall continue the plan to create more WATs, and encourages the industry to join the ranks of WAT operators. Next year, at least 100 WATS will be on the road to gradually improve Kaohsiung City's wheelchair-accessible transportation environment.
The Transportation Bureau stated that the Kaohsiung City's 10 major hospitals are the first in the nation to have designated areas for WATs and Rehab Buses within the hospital or on the roads outside their main entrances. This provides physically or mentally disabled people with optimized hospital transportation services. Moreover, the area in front of the Kaohsiung International Airport has also designated areas for such vehicles. Later, the Kaohsiung Zuoying HSR Station, major tourist destinations and other areas with great demand for critical public transportation services will also have designated areas. This shall improve service quality of the medical, tourist, and societal transportation needs for the physically and mentally disabled.
The Transportation Bureau went on to say that since 2013, through the subsidation plan of the city's Social Affairs Bureau, disabled people that use the "those-in-need card" when taking Kaohsiung City WATs will get a discount of NT$18 for rides costing NT$100 or less, a discount of NT$36 for rides costing NT$101 to NT$200, and a discount of NT$54 for rides costing NT$201 or more. The Transportation Bureau has already coordinated with the Eden Social Welfare Foundation and the WAT teams to establish a referral platform to provide citizens that are unable to reserve Rehab Buses with WATs. They have also produced and distributed vehicle calling cards to the public and organizations for disabled people. This will provide disabled people with a seamless referral platform for accessible vehicles.
Currently, WATs utilize Volkswagen's Caddy, Ford’s Tourneo Custom vehicles, and others high-quality vehicles. The interiors are spacious so that disabled passengers can enjoy a five-star journey. The public may call dedicated vehicle reservation call-lines at the following numbers: M-Taxi: 07-7241111; Taiwan Taxi: 55688 (cell phones), 405-88888 (local landlines); KS Taxi: 725-8777; Crown Taxi: 5510 (cell phones), 4128-333 (local landlines). In the future, the Transportation Bureau will continue to fight for funding of WATs, to better serve people with disabilities and mobility problems.
The original news is available at: http://www.tbkc.gov.tw/EN/news01_01_Info.aspx?GthOHiJ43++M/M1pNU0Cpg==