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Shortage of Wheelchair Vans in Taxi Industry

NYC-Cab-0005A shortage of wheelchair accessible taxis has left many people with special needs without access to reliable transportation in major cities throughout the country. The problem in some areas is so severe that citizens have complained to city leaders about the shortage of wheelchair accessible taxis. People who are disabled want the dignity to be treated just like everyone else. And requesting wheelchair accessible taxis should be as easy as it is for non-disabled passengers.

Things are finally beginning to change, albeit slowly, as many cities are mandating taxis and ride-hailing service providers offer wheelchair accessible transportation as a matter of local law. In New York City for example, a historic legal settlement three years ago between the City and disability advocates led to the creation of a new law requiring half of all NYC yellow taxis to be wheelchair accessible by the year 2020. At the time, less than two percent of the taxi fleet was wheelchair accessible. As an approved provider of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), FR Conversions is the city’s largest provider of converted cabs.

Also, the City of Chicago recently announced a financial incentive program to encourage drivers of taxis and ride-hailing services to purchase wheelchair accessible vehicles. Under the program, the city will provide taxi drivers with a $20,000 subsidy to help cover the cost of purchasing a factory-built wheelchair-accessible van. It is hoped that this will nearly double the number of wheelchair-accessible taxis by the end of the year. And the Montgomery County (MD) Council passed an ordinance requiring all taxis operating within the county to be wheelchair accessible by 2025.

Uber which is the most popular ride-hailing service has been criticized for its lack of accessibility for disabled passengers. Their UberWAV app does make it easier for people with disabilities to request service, but it all depends on whether or not a driver with a wheelchair accessible vehicle is available in that particular location.

There are also other transportation options for people with special needs. For instance, FR Conversions specializes in manufacturing safe, reliable and affordable wheelchair van conversions. All vehicles are crash-tested through the same lab that is used by the automotive industry. In addition, financial incentives and grants are also available to those who qualify. They also provide commercial conversion vans for businesses, taxis and ride-hailing services.

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