Diamond lane privileges reducing travel times for taxis

Diamond lane privileges reducing travel times for taxis

If you’ve travelled along one of Winnipeg’s diamond lanes lately, you may have noticed something a little different about who’s bypassing rush hour traffic.

A new pilot project now permits taxis to travel in the lanes which have traditionally been reserved for cyclists and city buses.

It’s only been a month and a half since the new rules took effect, but some road users are already offering feedback.

The Winnipeg Community Taxi Coalition said allowing cabs access to diamond lanes has helped taxi passengers get where they need to be faster in the downtown area.

“So far, so good,” said coalition spokesperson Scott McFadyen. “30 per cent reduction in times, which is really great in the downtown area.”

The Amalgamated Transit Union worries faster cab rides will mean slower bus service, but so far it says no major issues have been identified.

“We haven’t had too many complaints yet so far,” said ATU Local 1505 president Aleem Chaudhary. “We have asked our drivers to let us know and we also ask the public to let the ATU know, the transit union know, if there is problems that they see.”

“So far, I don’t think it’s affecting it a lot, but I think it’s still early in the trial period.”

The pilot project started March 1 when the city’s Vehicles for Hire bylaw came into effect.

The city says it’s monitoring diamond lane usage to determine the benefit to taxis and any impact on transit service.

A city spokesperson said so far it’s received 16 reports from Winnipeg Transit operators of taxis stopping in diamond lanes and impeding the flow of transit service.

For cycling advocates, safety concerns remain top of mind.

Bike Winnipeg executive director Mark Cohoe said he hopes taxi drivers are receiving training similar to transit operators about how to use diamond lanes safely.

“They’re trained to make sure that they give half a lane when they pass someone on a bike, to make sure that they’re giving that space,” said Cohoe. “So what the concern we have really is that maybe that message hasn’t gotten through to taxi drivers as of yet.”

McFadyen said drivers have been given brochures about to use diamond lanes properly and safely.

“During peak hours we’re not allowed to stop in diamond lanes,” said McFadyen. “That’s something that we’re conscious of, we’re conscious of any cyclists that we’re sharing the road with.”

Published at Mon, 16 Apr 2018 19:29:33 -0400