The Regional District of Nanaimo board has approved changes to the HandyDart taxi saver program, which offers a taxi fare discount to registered users. (News Bulletin file)

RDN approves extra taxi subsidy to help out HandyDart riders

Regional District of Nanaimo directors green-light transit committee recommendation

HandyDart users will get more bang for their buck after the Regional District of Nanaimo board gave the go-ahead to price adjustments for a supplemental taxi program.

HandyDart is a specialized transit service people with disabilities can register for. The taxi saver program is an additional service that allows users to purchase coupons redeemable for 50 per cent of cab fare in the event HandyDart isn’t available for them.

Previously, users could purchase $60 in coupons once every 90 days, but at their Tuesday regular meeting, RDN directors approved a transit select committee recommendation increasing it to $80 and a frequency to every 60 days.

READ ALSO: RDN to apply new HandyDart registration process

According to Daniel Pearce, RDN director of transportation and emergency services, the cost of the program is going up, but not the cost to riders.

“Before, they could pay $30 and get $60. They can now buy $40 for $80, so they get more out of the program,” said Pearce. “If they don’t want to buy the full booklet, they don’t have to, they can buy a lesser amount. The concern was that taxis have gotten more expensive over the years and $60 wasn’t getting them very far. It’s a 50 per cent subsidy on a taxi ride up to $80.”

In terms of why the transit select committee recommended the changes, Pearce said it was due to feedback from customers.

According to an RDN staff report, the cost for taxi saver coupons is shared with B.C. Transit, which covers 67 per cent of the cost. Previously, the RDN contributed $6,000, but with the changes, that will increase to $12,000 annually. The amount will be included in the 2020 budget plan.

More information on HandyDart can be found at www.rdn.bc.ca/handydart-information.



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