The current number of wheelchair-accessible taxis in Worcester, England is one. Yes, you read that right — one. And members of the local handicapped community are urging officials for more.
Robert Bilotta, chairman of the Worcester Commission on Disabilities expressed his frustration: “We’re really underserved. It’s a quality-of-life issue; we’re not able to enjoy Worcester.”
More than a decade ago, Red Cab was given two taxi medallions under an agreement with the city in exchange for providing wheelchair-accessible taxis. However, an incident that happened last 2018 put one of the cabs out of service. Therefore, only one WAV taxi is available for the whole city.
Toni Donovan, founder of Red Cab, promises another wheelchair-accessible cab for use as soon as the insurance money comes through. “… I think it’s something we have to do in this community – provide transportation for the wheelchair-bound,” she says.
There are a lot of limitations that the single taxicab faces, such as long-distance trips, weight-limitations, and time of day. This, along with the number of PWD’s in the area, leaves community members feeling marooned.
Although there are Lyft and Uber rides available in the city, they are unable to accommodate passengers in wheelchairs.
The Worcester Regional Transit Authority has wheelchair-accessible buses and offers wheelchair-accessible paratransit service. However, there are a lot of requirements and procedures to follow, doubling the frustration that wheelchair users already experience.
On April 1, Disability Rights Advocates has filed class-action lawsuits against Uber and Lyft. This non-profit organization claims that the companies have violated the ADA by not providing WAV service for Bay Area residents.
Wheelchair user and VP of Public Affairs and Youth Services Joe Bellil states: “I’m not sure there’s a law that taxi companies have to provide a set number of taxis.”
“We respect businesses and want them to make money, but at the same time we want to have access.”