District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray and Councilmember Mary Cheh announced today that D.C. has secured $375,000 in funding to match a federal grant and ensure that the rollDC pilot continues to provide wheelchair accessible taxi service to the public. rollDC, which is implemented and managed by the Transportation Planning Board (TPB) in partnership with Yellow and Royal Cab, provides over 400 trips a month to customers who need a wheelchair ramp to use a taxi. The match funding by D.C. will be used to leverage about $1 million in federal funding to support expanding the number of vehicles in the pilot, maintaining and operating the vehicles, and driver training.
Demand for the service has grown steadily. The number of wheelchair trips has more than tripled between August 2010 and August 2012. Before rollDC’s January 2010 launch, none of the taxis operating in the District were equipped with ramps to accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility devices.
“The funding support from the Mayor and Council and growing customer demand means this important pilot will keep rolling,” said College Park City Council Member Patrick Wojahn, who serves as TPB Vice Chair and has led its advisory committee for people with disabilities. “ The Transportation Planning Board was able to work together with all the parties—the cab companies, advocates, taxicab commission, the Mayor and Council—and bring this service to residents and visitors of our nation’s capital.”
To initially launch rollDC, the TPB used a $1.3 million Federal Transit Administration grant to purchase 20 ramp-equipped minivans, train drivers, promote the service, and monitor the pilot’s performance. The grant included $200,000 in matching funds from D.C. and contributions from Yellow and Royal Cab.
“Yellow Paratransit through its affiliate company Yellow Cab Co. of DC Inc. is fully committed to the rollDC pilot and very excited that the City has provided the matching funds to maintain and expand this very critical service,” said Roy Spooner of Yellow Cab. “We know that the additional vehicles will greatly enhance the current service and help us to better respond to the travel needs of the disabled community.”
Customers have noted through a customer survey that rollDC provides another transportation option in addition to MetroAccess for people with disabilities. While rollDC users pay regular priced taxi fares, they have more flexibility by avoiding the pre-registration process and one-day advance booking of MetroAccess. The survey also showed that one third of rollDC’s users are visitors to the nation’s capital.
“People with disabilities who work or live in or visit our nation’s capital must have access to taxicabs in the same manner as any other person,” said James Weisman, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for United Spinal Association.
Customers can book a trip via phone or the internet: Yellow Cab of DC (202) 544-1213; www.dcyellowcab.com ); Royal Cab (202-398-0512; www.dctaxionline.com ).