At the moment, there are about 280 wheelchair-accessible taxis in the District – that approximately total to 36,000 trips per month. It may already sound a lot, however, that’s not enough to meet the demand.
But there’s good news for the PWD community – a new pilot program by the District Department of For-Hire Vehicles (DFHV) aims to increase the number of accessible taxis in circulation.
“In order to build a stronger, more connected DC, we need to ensure accessible and equitable transportation options for all of our residents and visitors,” said DC Mayor Muriel Bowser in a statement. “This innovative pilot program is one way we hope to increase the number of wheelchair-accessible vehicles in service to ensure everyone can explore all that our city has to offer.”
Moreover, the Fast Pass program is a one-month pass that prioritizes WAV drivers to the front of the taxi line at Union Station.
Since the program launched on October 28, the system recorded around 1,096 rides, netting pass users an additional $2,100 in revenue.
“Our intent with the Union Station Fast Pass is to create an incentive for operators to increase the availability of wheelchair accessible vehicles, offer great service and provide additional income opportunities for taxi drivers,” said DFHV Director David Do. “Mayor Bowser is committed to ensuring accessible service is available for our residents and visitors; thus DFHV will be evaluating this program for its effectiveness to achieve the policy goals of the administration.”
Before this initiative, widespread discrimination from drivers occurred at an alarming rate. Often, wheelchair and other mobility device users find themselves stranded after WAV drivers decline to pick them up. However, this program could encourage drivers to provide better service to people with disabilities.
“I think it’s a great incentive for WAV drivers that sometimes want to declines calls,” said Fast Pass grantee Alfred Winters.
As of this moment, the Fast Pass program is only open to current Transport DC participants. The DFHV shall determine the qualifications based on the agency’s data from the prior month. Furthermore, the program will continue through April 30, 2020, at which time it will be evaluated.