Washington, D.C. - Area transportation companies Yellow Cab Company of D.C. and Royal have added a total of 13 new wheelchair accessible taxis to their fleets, thanks to a grant from the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB). The grant is through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) New Freedom program and is being matched with company contributions and funds from the District of Columbia.
Yellow Cab of D.C. received seven of the new taxis—modified Dodge minivans—expanding their wheelchair accessible fleet to 25 vehicles. Royal received six new taxis, growing their wheelchair accessible fleet to 34 vehicles.
Last year, Yellow and Royal together provided more than 12,800 wheelchair trips to area residents—more than doubling the number of trips taken in 2012. Part of this growth includes demand for the Transport DC program, an alternative to MetroAccess paratransit service through which MetroAccess customers can use Yellow or Royal taxis for trips within the District for a fare of $5 dollars. Participating taxicab companies must purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle after the completion of every 3,000 trips.
The 13 new vehicles that Yellow and Royal received from the TPB grant will help the companies meet the demand for Transport DC and comply with District regulations requiring that 12 percent of each fleet be wheelchair accessible by December 31, 2016. Each accessible taxi is outfitted with a ramp and hooks inside the cab to secure wheelchairs or other power-driven mobility devices, and can accommodate up to four passengers in addition to the person using the wheelchair.
The TPB’s Access for All (AFA) Advisory Committee has advocated for more wheelchair accessible service throughout the region, given the need and demand for such services. There are approximately 6,500 taxis in the District and less than 6 percent are wheelchair accessible. According to the most recent American Community Survey from the U.S. Census, there are approximately 68,000 people with disabilities in the District and almost 390,000 in metropolitan Washington. These accessible taxis serve the general public; priority is given to customers that use wheelchairs or other mobility devices who need a ramp to get into a taxi.
Incentives and financial assistance for both wheelchair accessible vehicles and the drivers have been necessary to support companies in the District with expanding their accessible fleets. The District’s unique open regulatory system does not allow drivers or companies to own a highly valued license or medallion. In addition, wheelchair accessible vehicles are at least three times more expensive than a typical sedan taxi.
RollDC, the pilot program that brought the first wheelchair accessible taxis to the District, was implemented by TPB in 2011, with the assistance of then-councilmember and former TPB Chair Muriel Bowser. Demand for wheelchair accessible service has grown, and the taxi fleets have been steadily growing with support from District of Columbia government funding and TPB grants.
Wheelchair accessible trips can now be booked through the District’s new mobile app DCTaxi, dctaxi.com/#DCTaxi, or through the individual companies:
Yellow Cab Company of DC: (202) 544-1213
Royal Cab: (202) 398-0500