Hailing a taxi is a popular and extremely convenient mode of transportation in a large city but for many people with disabilities, it can be quite difficult or even impossible. For people who need an accessible taxi, it is just like accessing a cab in a small town–even in cities lined with taxis–impossible to hail at the curb and access a ride within seconds.
Not all cars are wheelchair accessible. And then there are even cities–that provide taxis to the public–that do not have one wheelchair accessible car. So, calling and scheduling an accessible taxi is not even possible.
The best advice is to do your research. Use Google. If you are flying, call the airport to which you will be arriving. Many airports will have a location where the taxis reside. Ask if there are accessible taxis located there. Many hotels also provide shuttle services. This may be a better option over a taxi if traveling from the airport to a hotel. Call the hotel; ask if they have a wheelchair accessible shuttle. If the hotel provides a shuttle but it is not wheelchair accessible, ask if they will comp a wheelchair accessible taxi ride.
Ride shares have recently entered the scene of transportation. Even though ride shares may not be a part of the public transportation system, ride shares have become a viable option for many and have a great impact on public transportation systems.
Even though Uber and Lyft have become an innovative way of transportation, they are both yet to be completely accessible to everyone. As a person with a disability, there are things to remember when looking to book a ride with Uber or Lyft.
Both Uber and Lyft do not provide accessible cars in every location in which they provide their service. Both Uber and Lyft claim that they do not have to comply with federal accessibility mandates as they are an app not a service.
Uber and Lyft drivers are known within the disability community to refuse service and drive away from people who use wheelchairs. Many people in wheelchairs can transfer and break down or fold their chairs so that they are able to ride in a typical car.
When looking at Uber’s Car Share, keep in mind that one specific location will be picked for all the riders looking to share the car (which is not always indicated until right before hand). A car share is more cost effective but due to that one location, it may be impossible for a person with a disability to arrive at the designated location on time or at all.
Uber WAV has been an answer to Uber cars not being accessible to all wheelchair users. However, Uber WAV is only offered in specific areas within 16 cities across the world. Plan your trip accordingly by looking at the accessibility offered by rideshares ahead of time.
Not only are Uber and Lyft not wheelchair accessible but they are also monopolizing the transportation business. This is eliminating transportation that is accessible. The number of taxis offered in different cities have been decreased, lowering the number of accessible taxis offered (based on percentage); however, these accessible cars have not been replaced by Uber or Lyft. Businesses like SuperShuttle–an accessible transportation option across the US–are going out of business.
Since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, transportation for wheelchair users has improved. However, transportation has still yet to become entirely accessible. All cities are also different in their accessibility, making research and flexibility a must.