Wheelchair Accessible Taxis
Until a few years ago, transportation services for physically disabled, especially those on wheelchairs, were limited at best. The wheelchair occupants had no option but to live a life of seclusion. For traveling purposes, they had to be removed from their chairs and loading them into the vehicles. This caused great difficulty for the disabled and the carrier as well. A specialized need for transporting services was recognized by the officials and administration of metropolitan cities hence wheelchair accessible taxis were introduced.
The city of Houston and New York City lead the way in the way of development of wheelchair accessible cabs into the existing fleets. The process of development of wheelchair accessible taxis went to through different testing phases. Such vehicles require a large space for the accommodation of wheelchair. Very few vehicle were able to take on such monumental task.
Some taxi owners convert their routine vehicle to be accessible for wheelchair occupants by making certain modifications in their vehicles.
These modifications may involve the following:
- A portion of the floor is lowered.
- Seating arrangement is modified and reconfigured in order to accommodate a wheelchair.
- To allow the vehicle to bear additional weight, the suspension can be stiffened.
- Fuel lines and gas tanks of the vehicle can be modified.
- To reduce the slope of the ramp in side entry vehicles, power kneeling system can be added.
- A certificate to operate a wheelchair accessible taxi is a must for the safety of the passenger.
Two types of entry configuration are there for the vehicle owners to make in their taxis to convert them into wheelchair accessible cabs.
The wheelchair occupant in side entry configured vehicle can be seated in the front passenger position in their wheelchair or on the driver position and it allows more often storage space. The major problem with side entry configured wheelchair accessible taxis is that they require a handicap parking space or some extra space for the deployment of the ramp for wheelchairs to enter or exit the vehicle as some driveways may not be wide enough to accommodate the vehicle. This type of entry configured vehicle is used by more than 75% taxi owners.
Such type of vehicles are used when the passengers are not driving but riding the taxi as a passenger. No extra room for a ramp is required in rear entry modified wheelchair accessible taxis. It can accommodate more people than the side entry modified taxi due to the mid-seats availability. There is more room for leg rest and for a long wheelchair. Less storage space and the wheelchair occupant not being able to drive the vehicle are the limitations of rear entry modified vehicles.
The availability of wheelchair accessible cabs has made transportation convenient and safer for physically handicapped. They cannot enjoy traveling without much stress and trouble.