This goes without saying, but you can’t fit a wheelchair in the back of a regular cab. This, until recently, was a big problem in D.C. WAMU's Martin DiCaro , reports that, out of all the cabs operating in D.C., only 20 were wheelchair-accessible vans.
Now, the DCTC is offering grants to cab companies to buy more of these; companies that have already met the 6 percent threshold can apply for $7,500 to purchase a wheelchair van or $2,500 to rent one. Mobility Ventures, a company that specializes in making wheelchair vans, is making its product available at a discounted price of $25,000 for any buyer participating in the grant program and adding on another $5,000 for the first 20 buyers.
“You effectively are buying a $40,000 vehicle for $12,500," DCTC acting chairman Ernest Chapprah told DiCaro.
Only cab companies or drivers with a current taxi license can apply for the grants.
There’s $750,000 in the budget for this program, paid for through the Public Vehicles-for-Hire Consumer Service Fund (which is funded through a passenger surcharge on taxi trips and a one-percent fee on trips via ride-hailing service). The DCTC will give out grants until Sept. 30 or until the budget runs out.
Speaking of Uber, DiCaro mentions that it and other ride-hailing apps are even less wheelchair accessible. Uber recently partnered with a provider of wheelchair-accessible vans to help its drivers get financing, but you can’t order a wheelchair-accessible ride via the app.