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Blueline Taxi Saskatoon:  Wheelchair Van

Driver Altered Scooter Controls, Created Hazard

Complaint Options: Saskatoon United Blueline Taxi

United Group

225 Avenue B North
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Canada  S7L 1E1

Saskatoon United Group includes Blueline Taxi, United Cabs (yellow color), and Prestige Car Service. The company is privately owned by Scott Suppes, Laurie Suppes & Gerald Haller.

United Group: Management Team

PresidentScott Suppes
General ManagerCarlo Triolo
Operations ManagerTony Rosina
Account ManagerAnnette Pshebylo
Fleet ManagerKen Neufeld

Merger: Blueline and Comfort Cabs

In 2018 two main Saskatoon cab companies – Blueline (United) and Comfort Cabs – plan to merge, spurred by expected competition with ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. A new Vehicles for Hire Act has passed first reading in the Saskatchewan legislature.

Customer Complaint Options

Making a Bylaw Complaint
Saskatoon City Hall

Human Rights Commission
Saskatchewan Government

Reviews: Saskatoon Blueline Taxi
Google Reviews

United Blueline Taxi:  Report to Dispatcher

United Group
225 Avenue B North
Saskatoon, SK S7L 1E1

Attention Janet (Dispatch):

As discussed, here are pages from my scooter Manual. One copy is for you, the other for the Fleet Manager of Saskatoon United Blueline Taxi. Purpose: a training session for drivers. As you suggest, one hurdle may be language. Seeing the material in written form may help drivers not fluent in English.

Our discussion arose after my trip by Accessible Taxi this evening. The issues:

The Brake Lever on my Scooter has Two Possible Positions

Brake Engaged

This is the normal position for riding the scooter. What gets engaged is an electronic braking system (see points 4 & 7 of the Manual). This lever must not move.  Taxi Drivers: Never touch this Brake Lever.

Brake Release

This position is used to push the scooter by hand instead of riding it. This option is seldom used, and that explains why the Brake Lever is tucked or hidden away on the back of the chassis.

How Does a Scooter Differ from a Car?

On a scooter, the Brake Lever is not a parking brake (if it were, it would be easier to reach).  For details see the scooter Manual

Brake Engaged has no equivalent in a car
Brake Release resembles ‘neutral’ in a car

Testing the Stability of the Scooter

After my scooter is up the ramp and inside the Van, some drivers grab the back of the scooter-seat and shake it aggressively. This feels violent, and all it achieves is to put the seat-back out of its careful alignment. To test the scooter’s stability, use this method: you can shake the rear bumper. The bumpers (front and rear) are the only parts of the scooter designed to take that much pressure. And the driver is handling the rear bumper anyway to fasten the hook/strap connectors.

Yours truly,
Georgena Sil

This all reduces to one simple rule for Drivers of Wheelchair Taxis:
Don’t touch anything on a Scooter except the front and rear bumpers.

The formal letter of complaint below was sent to the Fleet Manager of United Group (Blueline Taxi) in Saskatoon on April 29, 2016. The taxi dispatcher (Janet) urged the letter after a verbal discussion with me, the webmaster of Tuum Est. At time of publication, there has been no reply or follow-up from Blueline. Tuum Est will keep this page updated.

Fleet Manager
United Group (Accessible Taxi)
225 Avenue B North
Saskatoon, SK S7L 1E1

Dear Fleet Manager:

This is a formal complaint regarding the taxi driver who transported me on my scooter today, April 29, at about 9 PM. The fare was $25 (though earlier in the day, over the same distance with more traffic, my fare was only $20). For identification, the night-time vehicle was an Accessible Taxi, yellow in color with advertising painted on the side panels.

I cannot ride with a driver who would even consider monkeying with the controls of my three-wheel scooter, especially when done behind me where I cannot see. This driver was passive-aggressive: He is quiet spoken (not loud or rude), yet destructive. The problems in time order:

Start of the Trip

After my scooter was up the ramp and in the Van, the driver stood behind me and grabbed the seat-back of my scooter to shake it repeatedly in a forward-and-back motion. I asked him to stop, and offered an alternative – to test the stability of my scooter, he could shake the rear bumper which is designed to take pressure.

The taxi driver ignored me and resumed his aggressive shaking of the seat-back. I again said stop, use the rear bumper. He put on a blank, innocent face and said What? Then still behind me, he grabbed the arm-rests of my scooter and shook them in a violent forward-and-back motion.

At the Destination (Van and Ramp)

Blueline Wheelchair Van
Blueline Accessible Taxi
Saskatoon, Canada
United also runs Yellow-Cab Vans

We reached the destination and were still inside the Van. When the driver unhooked my rear bumper, he moved the Brake Lever on the back chassis of my scooter from its normal position (Engaged) to its seldom-used alternate position (Released). This created a hazard.

Normally the scooter moves only when the rider presses the Speed Lever. This time my scooter rolled down the ramp on its own. It was swift and shocking. The driver was not beside the ramp when this occurred.

For clarity, I first describe normal procedure: The scooter has a key to control power (key in = power ON, and key out = power OFF). During a Van ride I leave the key out to avoid accidental rolls in case my purse-strap or cuff catches the Speed Lever. At the destination, the driver unhooks the scooter, lowers the ramp, and says Okay. I insert the key, push the Speed Lever, and roll down the ramp. To allow time for steering corrections, I slow my descent by letting go of the Speed Lever for a second or so, two or three times (this kicks in the electronic brake). See Mechanics, below.

Event on April 29: The driver unhooked the bumpers and lowered the ramp. I kept the key out as he wasn't ready yet (he was still beside me in the back of the Van). I felt the beginnings of movement and I said It's rolling, it's rolling. Without investigating, the driver got out, walked to the side of the Van, and stayed busy with something there. My scooter suddenly caught the down-slope of the ramp and really began to roll with no action from me. I was down the ramp in a few quick seconds.

My scooter and I escaped damage only because my wheels happened to be lined up parallel to the ramp at that moment. I couldn't slow my descent because the key was out (thus no power to the Speed Lever), and also because the Brake was Released. The handlebars always rotate, so I had steering, but things went too fast for any correction of the wheel-angle. If the wheels had been angled at the start, the scooter would have shot off the side of the ramp on its way down. I instinctively tried to move upward to return to the Van, but that failed – my Speed Lever had no power! The driver could not assist because he was not beside the ramp.

At the Destination (Tarmac)

The driver ran to see what happened. I asked if he had touched the Brake Lever. He said no. I asked the driver to read the words at the current position of the Lever, and he said Brake Release. That means the driver did move the Lever, probably shortly before I felt movement. No other people were nearby. And I certainly didn't move it – having the Brake Engaged is an operational necessity.

As a test, I inserted my scooter key, and we heard the horn beep, the standard result when trying to power the scooter with the Brake Released. When I got into the Van downtown, the Brake was properly positioned, because first, the horn was silent then, and second, I cannot ride my scooter up a ramp (or anywhere else) unless the Brake is Engaged.

A Matter of Personal Safety

Did this driver intend an accident, or not? The answer is unclear. Even if he is only hapless, I cannot, as a matter of personal safety, ride with him again. I appreciate that he returned the parcel I left in the Van, but then  –  he caused the distraction.

Yours truly, Georgena Sil
Saskatoon / Canada

Scooter Mechanics

Fortress 2000 Three-Wheel Scooter / Manual (points 1 to 7)

Brake Lever
  • Located on the back chassis of the scooter. Designers put the lever out of reach to prevent riders from accidentally changing its position. It is not a parking brake.
  • The Brake Lever has 2 options: Engaged and Release. The Brake Lever is always Engaged when riding. What the lever engages is an electronic braking system.
  • A scooter owner can ride all day, stop, start, park – and that lever stays Engaged.
  • Brake Release is reserved for free-wheeling the scooter (like neutral in a car).
Speed Lever
  • Located on the front of the scooter, underneath the handlebars. It is a rocker mechanism. To move the scooter forward, press the right side of the Speed Lever. To back up, press the left side of the Speed Lever.
  • To stop the scooter, simply lift your hands off the Speed Lever. This feature is for safety. Scooter owners are often seniors with arthritic hands and slow reaction times. A sudden stop does not require two motions (as in a car), but only one motion: Let go of the Speed-Lever, and the scooter stops on a dime (the brake kicks in automatically).
Power ON and Power OFF

The scooter has a key (called a jack plug in the Manual). The following refers to riding mode, which means the Brake Lever is Engaged:

  • Inserting the key powers the scooter, in particular it powers the Speed Lever.
  • Removing the key cuts off power to the scooter, and engages the brake fully. Taxi drivers need not shake the scooter to make sure it won’t roll. A more logical step is for the driver to glance at the key-slot, to ensure the key is out. The slot is a round hole on the right of the instrument panel (I can show drivers where to look).

City of Saskatoon Taxi Bylaw
Codified to Bylaw No. 9342

Conditions Attaching to Taxi or Wheelchair Accessible Taxi Licence

15. (2)  Notwithstanding the generality of subsection (1), it shall be a condition of every wheelchair accessible taxi licence that priority is given to the conveyance of passengers with a disability.

Conditions Attaching to Temporary Wheelchair Accessible Taxi Licence

23. (2) Without restricting the generality of subsection (1), it shall be a condition of every temporary wheelchair accessible taxi licence that priority is given to the conveyance of passengers with a disability.

Taxi Broker - Obligations

30. Permanent Office and Complaints Process  –  Every licensed taxi broker shall:

(a) maintain a permanent office in the City where the taxi brokerage business is carried on;

(b) maintain a complaints process to promptly investigate and respond to service complaints registered by the public;

30. Dispatch Services  –  Every licensed taxi broker shall:

(i) dispatch drivers on the basis of the next available taxi located nearest the location of the request for service;

(j) dispatch requests for accessible taxi service from or for a person with a disability on a priority basis to the next available taxi located nearest the location of the request for service;

Taxi Driver - Obligations

35. (1) Licence and Tariff of Fees Visible  –  Every licensed taxi driver shall:

(c) at all times when operating a taxi, have his or her taxi driver’s licence, including photo clearly visible to passengers;

(d) at all times when operating a taxi, ensure that a clear decal indicating the tariff of fees is affixed to the interior of the taxi and is plainly visible to passengers.

35. (2) Wheelchair Taxi  –  Every licensed taxi driver operating under a wheelchair accessible taxi licence or a temporary wheelchair accessible taxi licence shall:

(a) operate a wheelchair accessible taxi only when the vehicle and its equipment comply with Canadian Standards Association standard D409-92;

(b) properly restrain every occupant of a wheelchair or other mobility aid;

(c) produce, upon the request of the City, a valid D409 certificate; and

(d) accept dispatch requests for accessible taxi service from or for a person with a disability on a priority basis.

D409 Certificate means the Canadian Standards Association standard D409-92, Motor Vehicle for the Transportation of Persons with Physical Disabilities.

Georgena S. Sil
Saskatoon, Canada
Physicist & Technical Writer
Alumnus: University of British Columbia
TuumEstContact@protonmail.com

Copyright © 2008-2018 Georgena Sil. All Rights Reserved.