Washington, DC—The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) today launched the full service of the District of Columbia’s first wheelchair accessible taxicab pilot project, rollDC. Today’s launch caps the successful testing phase of the program that saw a seven-fold increase in use by people using wheelchairs. rollDC’s full service includes a fleet of 20 accessible taxicabs, provided by Royal Cab and the Yellow Cab Company of D.C., to serve people with disabilities using wheelchairs in the District of Columbia.
It is estimated that 3.3 million Americans 15-years of age or older use wheelchairs—including more than 12,000 D.C. residents. The launch event was held at an outdoor plaza next to the Northeast D.C. office of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG).
“Today we celebrate the launch of an important transportation option for people with disabilities,” said Muriel Bowser, D.C. Councilmember and Chair of the TPB. “For the first time, D.C. has wheelchair accessible taxi service available – providing unlimited access to transportation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for people using wheelchairs.”
rollDC is a curb-to-curb service for people who use standard-size wheelchairs or scooters and cannot use traditional taxi sedans. Trips may be reserved up to a week in advance, the accessible taxis can accommodate up to 4 passengers in addition to the person using the wheelchair, and rates for the accessible taxi service are the same as those for traditional taxi services in D.C.
Richard Devylder, Senior Advisor for Accessible Transportation, USDOT said, “A transportation system that provides service for people with disabilities also provides them with enhanced opportunities to pursue employment, education, essential services and the American dream. The Department of Transportation remains committed to improving everyone’s access to transportation and is proud to have helped fund rollDC.”
Wheelchair accessible taxi programs like rollDC exceed the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and achieve greater access for persons with disabilities using wheelchairs. The project is part of a national trend in cities across the country investing in wheelchair accessible taxis.
D.C.’s testing phase for this project showed great potential, with demand for the accessible taxi service growing—from 49 trips in March of 2010 to 349 trips in March of 2011. The 20 accessible taxis owned by Yellow Cab Company of D.C. and Royal Cab provide priority service to riders using wheelchairs and are easily reached by phone or through web sites. ( Cal 202-398-0500 or go online at www.dctaxionline.com for Royal Cab; call 202-544-1213 or go online at www.dcyellowcab.com for the Yellow Cab Co.) If the wheelchair taxis for one company are busy, a trip request will be immediately transferred to the other company.
During today’s dedication event Bobby Coward, Executive Director at Direct Action, Inc, and a part of DC ADAPT, a nonprofit group that works on accessibility issues, was recognized for his efforts in bringing wheelchair accessible taxis to Washington.
“rollDC is a triumph for people with disabilities living in or visiting Washington D.C. It will help to make our nation’s Capital more accessible for people using wheelchairs as well as for their friends and families. I will continue to advocate on behalf of people living with disabilities until equal access is achieved,” Mr. Coward said.
While the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) led the implementation of the project, the FTA provided the $1 million New Freedom Grant; the D.C. Taxicab Commission provided $200,000 in matching funds; Yellow Cab Company of D.C. and Royal Cab dedicated private funds and other resources to the pilot project. The D.C. Office of Disabilities Rights provided guidance on the project. Twenty professionally -trained D.C. taxi drivers now deliver the accessible taxi service 24/7. The pilot project ends in July 2012. The service is expected to continue, but additional subsidies may be necessary.
FTA’s New Freedom program provides funding to improve access to transportation for people with disabilities.