In keeping with the spirit of inclusion and sensitivity, a user at the D.C. cab company office of Transco, demonstrated how a wheelchair accessible van could be fitted with side entrance ramps making it accessible to people in wheelchairs. With this innovation being seen as the next step forward, wheelchair accessible taxis may soon be a reality on D.C roads.
Changes in D.C.
The regulators of the city are doing everything they can to get wheelchair accessible taxis on the roads. Especially since a lot of wheelchair accessible vehicles do exist but more than one fourth of them are lying unused in taxi company lots across the city.
To get these vehicles back on the road, the DFHV has decided to give cabbies a reward of $5 for taking wheelchair accessible vehicles out on trips, even if the passenger does not have a disability that requires the use of a wheelchair ramp. Furthermore, to get cab drivers to use these vehicles, there is an overall award of $200 each for the top 5 cabbies who succeed in obtaining the most evening trips.
What's Behind the Idea?
The reason for these benefits being meted out is to try to get cab drivers to use their vans as often as possible, increasing the opportunity for wheelchair users to find them when needed. The only option available for people with disabilities was booking a ride in advance over the phone or through an app, until now. Director of DFHV, Ernest Chrappah, stated that they have always been committed to providing accessible transportation and tackling transportation challenges that come their way.
Wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) that ply on the streets have witnessed a significant increase due to the endurance and persistence of the disability community, which is what initially led the D.C. Council to make cab companies acquire these vehicles.
Thus, wheelchair accessible taxis may soon become a reality on the roads of Washington as 270 have already been registered by the council. Although many have remained idle for so long, the added incentives may go a long way in paving the path toward inclusive transportation.
Thoughts Behind the Process
Many drivers are still unwilling to transport people with disabilities in their vehicle because they harbor various misconceptions. Despite the DFHV providing these drivers with WAV training and workshops on disability sensitivity, drivers still veer towards the cheaper, regular taxis than these more expensive WAVs. Due to this, companies are thinking of further reducing the price of WAVs to get the market working in their favor.
The city’s transport program, which provides a paratransit service, may face a challenge now due to the WAV incentives being offered by the DFHV. The DFHV has decided that passengers will not face any trouble booking taxis during the first half of the month, but in the latter half, requests would be attended to, based on availability and location.
Hopefully, by the end of the next year, about 20 percent of taxi fleet will be plying WAVs despite company owners saying there is not much demand for these vehicles. However, if the market starts shaping itself for this change and people with disabilities are made aware of this facility, we may soon see a greater number of wheelchair accessible taxis on our roads.