*City to decide if pilot project should be made permanent*
* Transit backs taxi use of diamond lanes *
WINNIPEG’S public works committee will vote on whether a pilot project that allows taxis to travel in diamond lanes should be made permanent.
Taxis were granted permission to use diamond lanes on March 1, 2018, which is the same date the city paved the way for ride-hailing services to hit the streets of Winnipeg.
Diamond lanes are reserved for use by authorized vehicles during peak periods — mostly during weekday morning and afternoon rush hour. Prior to the start of the pilot program, only city buses and bicycles were allowed to use them.
Throughout the pilot project, which was scheduled to last a year, Winnipeg Transit monitored whether allowing taxis to operate in diamond lanes — but not stop in them — had a significant effect on bus service.
“Based on data analysis, as long as taxis continue to respect the ‘no stopping in the diamond lanes’ provision, the Transit department is supportive with taxis sharing the diamond lanes,” city employee Alex Regiec wrote in a report submitted to the committee.
The pilot project was implemented as a concession to the local taxi industry, which organized efforts to block ride-hailing services, such as TappCar and Cowboy Taxi, from coming to the city.
The decision to allow taxis to travel in diamond lanes was intended to increase industry efficiency and provide greater incentives for taxi use, the report reads.
However, the report notes there could be issues if ride-hailing services seek permission to use the diamond lanes.
“There is a risk that other personal transportation providers and private high-occupancy vehicles might desire the same access to, and use of, the diamond lanes as taxis,” Regiec wrote.
“Expanding access to diamond lanes diminishes the effectiveness of a reserved lane originally intended to maintain and improve the operation of mass public transit in congested traffic areas.”
During the year-long pilot project, there were 74 incidents in which taxis were reported to have stopped in diamond lanes.
Early in the pilot project, Winnipeg Parking Authority employees met with the taxi industry to raise awareness about the issue, which led to a significant drop in the number of reported incidents.
“Overall, the taxi industry has expressed an appreciation to the city for allowing their taxis to operate in the diamond lanes. They indicate this action has saved time and money for the consumer and increased efficiency,” Regiec wrote.
“The Transit department will continue to monitor and collect data related to incidents of taxis stopping in diamond lanes and the parking authority’s vehicles-for-hire office will continue to liaison between Transit and the taxi industry.”
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