Officials from the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), Federal Transit Administration, Governor’s Commission on Disabilities, Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the State of Rhode Island will join U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially celebrate the arrival of wheelchair accessible taxis in Rhode Island.
The ribbon cutting celebration will take place in the PC Lounge of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center located at 1 LaSalle Square in Providence on Friday, April 13, 2012 at 1:00pm. The new wheelchair accessible taxis will be on display at the location, with light refreshments for all guests following the ceremony.
Reed, a senior member of the Banking Committee, which oversees the Federal Transit Administration’s New Freedom program, helped author legislation funding thirteen wheelchair accessible taxis for the state. RIPTA and the RI Division of Public Utilities and Carriers also provided support to help bring these vehicles to Rhode Island.
The New Freedom grant program seeks to reduce barriers to transportation services and expand the transportation mobility options available to people with disabilities beyond the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.
These new taxis are modified Dodge Caravan mini-vans that have been specially modified by Viewpoint Mobility to accommodate wheelchairs and scooters in the rear compartment. The vehicles will operate just like any other taxi in Rhode Island, greatly improving access to transportation for the mobility impaired. Passengers using wheelchairs or scooters board the taxi via a ramp which extends from the rear of the vehicle. These wheelchair accessible taxis cost $36,744.00 each and were funded in part by over $380,000 in federal New Freedom grants. Seven private taxi companies provided partial matching funds to purchase these vehicles.
“We are excited to introduce a new transportation option for people with disabilities in Rhode Island,” said RIPTA CEO Charles Odimgbe. “For the first time, Rhode Island has wheelchair accessible taxi service available – providing unlimited access to transportation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for people using wheelchairs and scooters. We really appreciate Senator Reed’s support and that of our entire congressional delegation in helping us secure this funding.”
“I am proud to work with RIPTA to improve our transportation network to make it as safe, accessible, and cost-effective as possible. These new wheelchair-friendly cabs will help Rhode Island residents and visitors with disabilities get around the state. The New Freedom program helps give people more transportation choices, and ultimately it gives them more equality and opportunities. We want to spread the word that the accessible cabs are available and ready to roll,” said Senator Jack Reed.
Although all taxi companies must accommodate passengers with disabilities who are able to use a sedan-type taxi, including allowing service animals, and requiring drivers to stow mobility devices like walkers and foldable wheelchairs for a customer, the ADA does not require any special accessibility features for all taxis. The federal New Freedom grant program helps communities provide transportation service and accommodations “above and beyond” what the ADA requires, and will now bring more accessible taxi service to many Rhode Islanders and visitors to our state.
“Wheelchair accessible taxis allow disabled visitors to more freely explore all that Rhode Island has to offer,” said Martha Sheridan, President and CEO of the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Meeting and convention planners are diligent in making sure that all of their attendees are afforded comfortable and convenient transportation. The addition of these taxis to our transportation options makes us a more attractive destination for meetings, conventions and sporting events.”
Airport Taxi, Big Daddy Taxi, Corporate Taxi, Economy Cab, Orange Cab, Rainbow Cab and Valley Cab have purchased these new vehicles which will be on display at Friday’s ceremony. The taxis will serve seventeen communities, including Providence, Newport and Woonsocket. T.F. Green Airport in Warwick will also be served. Standard Rhode Island taxi rates will apply to any service provided with these vehicles.
For a more information, please call 401-781-9400.