Cobourg Wheels Users Will Have Weekend Access

Off hours reservation system put in place

Moya Dillon

COBOURG — Cobourg Wheels service users will once again be able to book trips on weekends through a new agreement with Coach Canada.

As of Saturday, Feb. 26, registered users of the Wheels service, which provides transportation to frail seniors and people with disabilities, will be able
to call Coach Canada’s dispatch office to make reservations during the weekend. Users had previously contacted provider Van Taxi directly to make reservations during the weekend, but that service was discontinued in December.

A contingent of Wheels users addressed Cobourg Council in a delegation on Monday, Jan. 24 to voice their frustration with the lack of options for weekend bookings, saying it was unreasonable to assume people would know their weekend schedules as of 5 p.m. on a Friday, which is when the Coach Canada office closed for bookings. In response, council directed the town’s engineering department, which oversees the service, to create a report in an effort to address the concerns and a meeting was held with Van Taxi, Coach Canada and town representatives.

“Many ideas were discussed at this meeting, with all present,” Teresa Behan, manager of engineering services, said in a report to council.

“Coach Canada currently performs all of the dispatching for the Wheels and the accessible taxi. It was determined that Coach Canada provides a paper trail which is completely auditable.”

Ms. Behan stressed the importance of auditable bookings, with regular audits of the program required in order to be eligible for provincial grants that
help fund the program.

Council voted to approve the engineering department’s recommendation that Coach Canada provide the weekend service through their Peterborough dispatch office, at a cost of $50 per day. The arrangement will begin on Saturday, Feb. 26 and continue for six months, at which time it will be reviewed.

Wheels user Jerry Ford, who delivered the original delegation on Jan. 24, said he was hoping for more from council.

“We had hoped to get some information about the meeting between Van Taxi, Coach Canada and the town concerning this issue,” he said. “As stakeholders we feel we should have been included in this meeting. Our input at an early stage would pre-empt many problems that will undoubtedly arise because the solution was devised in isolation.”

He also questioned the necessity of contracting Coach Canada for a service that Van Taxi had been providing free of charge.

“Why is a viable Cobourg business that employs 12 people and pays taxes in Cobourg, a company with a demonstrated track record, not even considered to be part of the solution?” he said. “I just don’t get it, and I doubt that the taxpayers will either.”

Ms. Behan said the Coach Canada option would provide an auditable paper trail, with reservation requests being emailed to the taxi company, and would not jeopardize any provincial funding.

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