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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Disability Rights Commission pushes for accessible taxis

The Disability Rights Commission renewed its commitment to improving the accessibility of Madison taxi cab services at a meeting Thursday night.

The commission discussed drafting an ordinance to ensure equal access to taxi service for disabled people, and approved a letter it plans to send to the Madison Common Council urging the city to make the issue a priority.

The commission, which works through the City of Madison Department of Civil Rights, recommends policy in areas that affect disabled individuals and their families.

Commissioner and Disability Rights and Services Program Coordinator Jason Glozier said that although there is technically a transportation ordinance on the books, there is no requirement for accessible services.

“Without any major ordinance or legislation in place, we’re unable to ensure that people with disabilities are ensured their federal right to equal access and their ability to fully enjoy their community,” Glozier said.

Last year the Common Council voted to accept a report by the commission that shared concerns about the lack of accessible services, but since then it has not followed up with any action.

Glozier noted that while the city provides bus and paratransit systems, they only exist during the day, which is why the commission is focusing its efforts on taxis.

“If you want to go out with your friends late at night and you have a disability and you’re in a wheelchair, you might be able to take a bus out at eight o’clock in the evening,” Glozier said. “But when you want to get home at one o’clock at night, there’s no longer transportation being provided.”

Currently, Union Cab is the only Madison taxi company that provides accessible service.

The commission said it is willing to work with more cab companies, but noted the possibility that increasing their fares to help fund accessible resources might cause people to choose ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft, which local municipalities cannot regulate.

The commission said sending the letter is its first step to gaining traction with city leadership. Members said they hope the body hears a response from the Common Council before beginning to draft an ordinance.

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