The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (DC) is launching Abilities-Ride, a flexible taxi-based service for eligible passengers with disabilities.
Starting on September 18, MetroAccess customers in Maryland will have the option to use on-demand taxi services without sharing a ride and at a discounted rate.
“The Abilities-Ride program is a win-win for Metro and our MetroAccess customers in Maryland, who will soon have the ability to choose a taxi trip, rather than MetroAccess, at a discounted rate without having to make an advance reservation,” said general manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld in a statement. “The Abilities-Ride program gives customers these important benefits while reducing cost for Metro.”
Eligible MetroAccess customers can request transportation for any trip that begins and ends within the MetroAccess service area in Maryland. They can request a trip in advance by calling the taxi company directly or using the service provider’s website or mobile application. Regency Taxi and Silver Cab will provide the rides.
Customers will pay the first $5 for each trip, and Metro will pay the rest of the fare up to $15. Any remaining fare over $20 will be billed to the customer. By shifting customers to taxi trips, the Abilities-Ride program is estimated to save Metro $4-$6 million per year. Each trip taken on MetroAccess costs Metro about $50 per trip.
The two designated taxi providers will offer wheelchair-accessible vehicles and accommodate customers traveling with a personal care assistant and/or a service animal at no additional charge.
There was speculation that WMATA would contract with a ride-hailing company like Uber or Lyft to provide the services, but it is not known whether either company submitted a bid for the program.
Based on program performance and rider feedback, WMATA will decide whether to expand Abilities-Ride to the District or Columbia or Virgina.
MetroAccess is WMATA’s ADA paratransit service.
Photo credit: Larry Levine/WMATA