Wait times for users of wheelchair accessible vehicles has been brought down two years after the Winnipeg WAV pilot program launched. 

Over 13,000 wheelchair accessible vehicle trips were booked with the 2023 program, which is approximately three times as much as 2022 when the total was 4,400 trips. The number is expected to continue to rise to 20,000 trips in 2024, up 50 percent.

Customer service ratings have continued to go up since prior to Winnipeg WAV. 93 percent of passengers have been picked up early or waited less than 20 minutes, which is down from upwards of two hours prior to the service. Based on close to 3,300 reviews in 2023, 95 percent of passengers have reported a four or five star service.

"Winnipeg WAV has been a great success story for our city, showcasing how innovation and dedication to customer service can transform lives," said Mayor Scott Gillingham in a news release. "Not only have we improved mobility options for residents, but we have provided essential backup capacity for our Transit Plus service, and supported local entrepreneurs in the vehicle-for-hire industry."

Winnipeg WAV was created with the goal of providing a centralized service for booking a trip. Having access to accessible vehicles from multiple taxi companies in on spot. The service is user-friendly by giving the ability to set pickup and drop-off locations, and Winnipeg WAV will choose the closest vehicle that is available for timely service.

“Winnipeg WAV combines a state-of-the-art dispatch system with a Winnipeg-based call center and a taxi industry determined to improve service,” said Ram Valluru, General Manager of Duffy’s Taxi and Winnipeg WAV Project Manager in a news release. “What is most important to us is the positive feedback from WAV customers. The central dispatch is also being used to dispatch some Winnipeg Transit Plus trips that WAV operators can provide. The original projections for the city were for 10,000 trips to be dispatched annually. Now in the second year, we are on track for over 20,000 trips annually. We are seeing on-time performance that is comparable to standard taxis. Most importantly, we’re seeing very high customer appreciation from users of this service.”

“We are pleased to be part of the Winnipeg WAV initiative and are committed to doing what we can to continue to improve WAV service,” said Abhishek Tara, General Manager, Unicity Taxi in a news release.

Winnipeg WAV is also beneficial for participating accessible taxi drivers and accessible vehicle owners who can get payments to help cover the initial cost of buying an accessible vehicle and maintenance, as well as free enhanced accessibility training provided by Independent Living Resource Centre.

“The Independent Living Resource Centre (ILRC) proudly supports Winnipeg’s WAV centralized dispatch service as it celebrates its second anniversary,” said Patrick Stewart of ILRC in a news release. “This vital program significantly addresses community concerns regarding access to safe and reliable wheelchair accessible vehicles for hire. Not only is WAV decreasing wait times, but additional training to WAV drivers ensures understanding of the value of the passenger and respect for their transportation experience. ILRC is committed to supporting this initiative as a permanent service, through our training programs and advocacy efforts, towards a fully integrated and accessible transportation network.”

Recommendations to Council by the Public Service with the goal of making Winnipeg WAV a permanent program later this year. 

Winnipeg WAV is available to download on the Apple App Store (iOS) or Google Play Store (Android). Users can also access the service by visiting winnipeg.ca/wav or by calling 204-986-4WAV (204-986-4928).