Woman in wheelchair with arms in in the air waving as her wheelchair accessible van drives away with a non-disabled person riding in it.

Who Steals a Wheelchair Cab?!

It was raining and I was exhausted when I arrived into my home station on the train and discovered that my wheelchair cab wasn’t there. I received a message that it had arrived, but the cabbie never phoned and had left without me. When I called the cab company, I asked where my reserved cab was and that I needed a wheelchair accessible vehicle. They apologized and said the cab had picked up the wrong person and were working on getting me another cab.

How does someone take a wheelchair cab?

What?! I was confused. Is there another person with my name and shiny, red hotrod (aka wheelchair) out there joyriding in my cab? Do I have an evil twin who steals other people’s cabs? I liked these elaborate scenarios over the obvious one: there were plenty of people waiting and the cabbie decided to pick up someone else. Likely someone else not in a wheelchair, meaning less work than getting me loaded.

I couldn't just use a regular cab

But I can’t just take another cab. I’m waiting there, watching the rain, for an hour before another wheelchair cab appears. In the meantime, dozens of people jump into regular cabs and speed off. The cab that can accommodate my wheelchair is not from any of the two companies I already called (and who never called me back—I could still be waiting there!) to request a wheelchair cab. I’m lucky because he just happened to have the right vehicle and stopped where I needed a pickup to get home. My careful planning turned into a nightmare, which turned into a lucky event.

Travel nightmares with wheelchair accessibility

I am used to travel nightmares. And I am used to the fact that it’s always something new and different. I can plan all I want, something will still go wrong. I’ve never had a cab stolen from me before. So that was new!

Sometimes planning ahead doesn’t matter

I’ve had cabs not show up. So, sometimes, when I have no other option and absolutely need one (such as to catch a plane first thing in the morning), I compensate and book two. The more the merrier, right? Wrong, one time they showed up at the same time and got into an argument (Hello! I booked you a half-hour apart for a reason! So I could at least be nice enough to cancel the second if the first one showed). Since I was boarding one already, I figured I could call that guy the winner (the other one was way late!). Still, it wasn’t fun. But I blame them for making me go to such lengths just to get where I am going in my wheelchair. Should it be this hard?

Wheelchair space is not luggage storage

When I arrived from the train part of the problem with my exhaustion was the fact that I had to ride in the cafe car. I had booked a wheelchair space and accompanying seat for my husband, Richard, but was told when boarding the train that no wheelchair spaces were available so I was crammed instead into the cafe car. I couldn’t nap or rest as I was in the cafe car. Apparently, it’s not just no rest for the weary, but also for the wheelchairs.

Why does luggage get my seat?

On a hunch I asked Richard to cross into the next car and check out the wheelchair space. He reported back that it was filled with luggage. So in every car, I suspect the wheelchair spaces were filled with baggage and the space I paid for was in use by suitcases. I didn’t see loads of wheelchairs riding off the train. In fact, I saw not a one.

The lack of wheelchair accommodations is frustrating

I am left speechless. It is so hard to find the accommodations that I need in order to get out in the world: a wheelchair cab, a little space on the train, etc. And when I do, it seems like they are yanked out from under me. I so want to shake someone. To say, these are spaces for people that need them, that cannot get around without them. Can’t we make a little effort to make sure they are available?

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