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Diving Over Barriers
"It's an Absolutely Fantastic First Step," says Warren
October 5, 2006

Living in Toronto, a city where taxicabs rule the streets, finding public transportation to accommodate wheelchairs isn't an easy task. Restricted to WheelTrans' set schedules and day-before reservations, wheelchair users can get frustrated with the lack of flexible and accessible taxicab transportation. Until now.

On Thursday october 5th, at 9:00 am at their head office located at 560 King Street West, Co-op Cabs hosted a ceremony to launch its Driving Accessibility Campaign, Toronto's first On-Demand Wheelchair Accessible Taxicab Service. "Wheechair users will now be able to flag an accessible taxi-van at the same rate whenever needed and have the freedom to come and go as they please," said Peter Zahakos, CEO and General Manager of Co-op Cabs. "This is the first time a cab company will provide true accessibility and equality to individuals with disabilities."

Committed to 'driving over barriers' that prevent wheelchair users from the same opportunities as others, Co-op Cabs will provide this on-demand service at the regular taxi meter rates. Whereas other wheelchair accessible vehicles are more expensive and run on restricted timetables, the new multipurpose on-demand taxi-vans will carry both able-bodied as well as wheelchair using customers on a more flexible schedule. Co-op Cabs is looking to expand this on-demand taxi-van service to the greater community as well.

Helping launch this unique initiative are Honourable Madeleine Meilleur, MPP, Minister of Community and Social Services, also Responsible for Ontarians with Disabilities, Andria Spindel, President & CEO of March of Dimes, Steven Christianson, Manager of Government Relations & Adovcacy, Neil Prime-Coote of 4NPC.com, Oliver Ramaker of Liberty Motors, Howard Brown, President of Brown-Cohen Associates, and Warren Rupnarain of Warren's World, a March of Dimes Advocacy Project.

"Our goals is to make Ontario an accessible province by 2025. We need the kind of leadership demonstrated by companies like Co-op Cabs," said Minister Meilleur. "Forward thinking is needed to open doors for those with differing abilities. Accessible cabs contribute to accessible cities where everyone is better able to participate in the community."

"Co-op Cabs is taking a great step towards equality that others haven't and this is important," said Rupnarain. "Implementing a policy such as this demonstrates their conscious effort to provide equal opportunities for the disabled community. This new service shows Co-op Cabs' real leadership as advocates of change, paving the way to provide all citizens of Toronto the freedom to travel and we encourage all cap companies to follow their example."

After the ceremony, Minister Meilleur, Ms. Spindel and Warren participated in the inaugural drive in the new taxi-vans. The Ford Freestar Vans converted by Liberty Motors form the core of Co-op's multipurpose taxicabs.

Minister Meilleur Peter Zahakos
and Warren.

Minister Meilleur, Peter Zahakos, Warren, Co-op drivers and City of Toronto officials salute the new service offered by Co-op.

Andria Spindel, Peter Zahakos, Warren, Minister Meilleur, Oliver of Liberty Motors, and one of Toronto finest cab drivers give the "Driving over Barriers" initiative the Thumbs Up.

Warren and Andria Spindel

Warren talling CityTV that Co-op's new policy is a great step towards transportation equality for people with disabilities.

Co-op CEO, Peter Zahakos, explaining to CityTV that accessibility is an issue close to his heart.

Minister Meilleur congratulating Warren on the great work of Warren's World.
Warren couldn't be happier, as Co-op CEO Peter Zahakos explains the new intiative to Andria Spindel, President & CEO, March of Dimes, and Hon. Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community & Social Services
Co-op's Peter Zahakos explaining to Andria Spindel and Minister Meilleur that Co-op is the only company in Toronto to try to achieve transportation equality.
Peter Zahakos and Warren displaying the new multipurpose accessible taxi-van
Minister Meilleur addressing the media assembled for the launch, with Peter Zahakos and Warren.
Minister Meilleur describing to Peter Zahakos how Co-op's new rate policy helps contribute to the Province's accessibility goals.
Peter Zahakos and Warren inspiring each other.
Warren entering the Co-op accessible taxi-van for the inaugural drive.
Minister Meilleur noting the comfort of the Liberty Motors vehicle customized for Co-op Cabs
Andria Spindel, President and CEO, March of Dimes..."imagine if all other cab companies followed the example set by Co-op."
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Warren's World is a March of Dimes Advocacy Project