It was difficult not to be as excited as Ana Rawlek Monday when she took the inaugural ride in Williams Lake’s new and only accessible taxi.
“This is so exciting,” Ana said as Town Taxi owner Nirmal Singh pushed her wheelchair inside the back of the Toyota van after her family helped her down the ramp from their Windmill Crescent home.
Ana has multiple sclerosis and has been in a wheelchair for about 18 months. She also uses a scooter.
Mayor Walt Cobb, whose wife Lynnette is also in a wheelchair, was there to see the taxi for himself.
“This is great news,” Cobb said as he inspected the lift and the inside of the brand new vehicle. “Now we just need people to use the service.”
George Atamanenko chairs the city’s accessibility committee and has been working with Singh and encouraging him to bring in an accessible taxi since Singh purchased the company in 2011.
“Early on Nirmal made a commitment when he still had his business in Golden that once he was able to spend more time in Williams Lake that he would really get the taxi,” Atamanenko said. “He’s done it and this is like a Christmas present for the community.”
Ana’s husband Barry, their son David and daughter Monica were there to witness how happy Ana was with her new freedom.
Singh said the van came from Richmond and when asked if it was a big investment, he chuckled and said “yes.”
Not all of the drivers are keen to drive the accessible taxi so for now Singh is the one behind the wheel, he added.
Ana was so happy to spread the good news that she had arrived at Save-On-Foods to shop for a few items by taxi and stopped to tell several friends how she’d got there.
The van has four passenger seats and room in the back for a fifth passenger in a wheelchair.
Singh still has to determine if he can fit a scooter in there or not.