For most people, calling a taxi doesn't require a lot of thought or planning. But if you are confined to a wheelchair, you probably already know that some things are more difficult because of your wheelchair. Getting a taxi may be one of them, but that doesn't mean it isn't a viable form a transportation for you.
Finding a Wheelchair Accessible Taxi
Call your local cab company such as Southwest Florida Transportation Group, Inc. or check the national listing of wheelchair accessible taxicabs on the Access Travel Center site to locate a taxi service near you that provides wheelchair accessible cabs. While not all wheelchair accessible taxi services are listed on the site, many choose to sign up to allow potential clients to locate them. Because taxis are not required to accommodate a wheelchair, you may need to call several companies to locate one who can service you. Many taxicab fleets have several wheelchair accessible taxis for hire.
Arranging for Taxi Services
Because many taxicab fleets have fewer wheelchair accessible taxis than traditional taxis, you may need to wait longer to receive services.
- Call the cab company a day or two before you will need a taxi to insure that a vehicle is available for transportation. While you may be able to get services for unplanned excursions, there is no guarantee there will always be a wheelchair accessible vehicle available.
- If you need transportation to and from an appointment or engagement, make those arrangements in advance, too. Hiring a taxi to take you to an event does not automatically include a return trip when you are ready to go.
- Explain your specific needs and do not let the phone attendant off the line until you are sure he understands what you need, says World on Wheels. This includes whether you can get out of the wheelchair and ride in the seat of the taxi or whether you need to be transported in the wheelchair. While the attendant may consider folding up the wheelchair and transporting it with you a wheelchair accessible cab, you are likely to see things differently.
- World on Wheels recommends calling the taxi service to confirm the arrangements for the pickup the morning of your scheduled outing and again 20 to 30 minutes before your appointment.
Getting to your destination safely is your first concern. This means both you and your wheelchair need to be secured properly.
- Position the wheelchair in the forward-facing position.
- Use the tie down restraints on your wheelchair to secure it to the vehicle. If your wheelchair is not equipped with a tie down restraint system, attach the tie downs of the vehicle to welded joints on your wheelchair. Avoid ties to the arm or foot rests, as these are not secure and may break or loosen during quick stops or accidents.
- Use both a lap belt and shoulder belt, with the lap belt resting just above the pelvis and the shoulder belt across the center of the chest, says the University of Michigan's Ride Safe publication.
- Do not agree to riding sideways or in any manner your feel is unsafe, even for a short distance. You have a right to safe transportation. Most taxicab drivers share your concerns and will gladly assist you in securing the wheelchair properly.
Taxis can, and often do, charge a higher fare for wheelchair accessible services to compensate for the larger vehicle. If you require the accompaniment of a personal attendant, many services allow the attendant to ride for free. Ask your cab driver about the company policy for personal attendants.
Always jot down the cab driver's ID number so you can report concerns or commend him for professional and efficient service.Share