November 26, 2012

Chicago kicks off wheelchair reimbursement program for taxis

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), City of Chicago and Access Living announced the inception of the City of Chicago's Taxi Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) Cost Reimbursement Program, which will put more than 130 additional wheelchair accessible taxicabs on the streets of Chicago.

“This is a wonderful program that will further expand and improve access and mobility for people with disabilities,” said RTA Chairman John S. Gates Jr., “On behalf of the RTA Board, it’s an honor to be able to support funding for a project that helps to eliminate transportation barriers.”

The program, funded through a $1.7 million federal New Freedom grant, will reimburse expenses to convert taxicabs to accommodate wheelchairs. Also, partial funding can be used toward the purchase of new factory manufactured wheelchair accessible vehicles.

The City of Chicago is covering approximately $443,000 for the program. The estimated cost for converting a taxi is between $15,000 and $20,000. The program is scheduled to begin in 2013.

The WAV fund was established in the taxi ordinance passed by City of Chicago Council members in January of 2012, reimbursing a taxi owner’s cost in placing a WAV into service.

The RTA board also approved two additional New Freedom funded projects benefiting people with disabilities. One project will fund CTA Rail Station Guides for Customers who are blind or visually impaired. The cost of this project is $53,000.

The other project is to fund Visual information Systems (VIS) at 11 non-key ADA Metra stations to improve mobility for the hearing impaired. The cost of this project is $375,000.

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