Accessible Taxis Enhance Freedom
Until the last year, wheelchair accessible cabs have been few and far between. In most places across the U.S., they are rare. But I have found them increasing in number, which is a huge boon to getting around in my wheelchair or at least having more transportation options.
Just a couple weeks ago, I was able to use a cab to get to a meeting and then back to my office. Because I do not drive and primarily use a motorized wheelchair to get around, my transportation options have been limited to public transit. Thankfully, I live in a city where the transit system is completely accessible (when all the equipment is working) and convenient.
Accessibility when one is disabled due to RA
Transit works for me to get around on most days. But some places are far from transit (leading to long rolls in my wheelchair) or the weather is bad (such as severe cold or rain). It’s great to have accessible taxis as another reliable option for when I need it.
While most people take it for granted, it is so nice to be able to schedule an accessible taxi and know that it will show up and deliver me to where I need to go. This is a new experience, really only within the last year! I admit I am not entirely used to it. It always felt like my money was not good enough, that people, like me, in wheelchairs were not considered credible customers by taxicab companies.
But all the drivers I have used in the last year have been terrific—they show up on time, know how to load my wheelchair, and do it with a pleasant attitude. It is the ‘regular’ cabbies who seem especially obnoxious.
Providing accessibility should not be a choice
Recently my husband and I returned from a trip and needed a cab to take us home from the airport. We had traveled with my manual wheelchair and so could take any cab as Richard would just fold it up and put it in the trunk with the luggage. We explained this to the dispatch person, but he only offered the option of an accessible cab when at least 10 regular cabs were waiting on the curb and we had no idea what the wait would be for the accessible one.
Frustrated, as we explained repeatedly that we could take any cab, we even tried to approach the cabbies sitting there in idle. No one would take us. “My money is good!” I shouted—yet this changed no minds. My fury kept growing, but before I had time to lash out again an accessible cab arrived.
Thankfully, the driver of the accessible cab was good and conveyed us home swiftly and safely. We gave him a good tip in gratitude.
But I cannot let go of the taxis who refuse to pick up a customer in a wheelchair or refuse to acknowledge that my money is green. Not only is it stupid on their part (as I am an excellent tipper, thank you very much), but it is discriminatory. In recent years new app companies that shall not be named have claimed they do not need to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act by providing accessible cabs, yet increasingly taxi commissions are working to get more accessible vehicles on the streets.
My opinion is that my money is good and that I should be able to use taxis, whether I have a wheelchair or not. If we need a good example, in London all taxis are required to be accessible and so anyone can use them. Imagine that!
Did you have difficulty receiving a RA diagnosis?