Contact: Neville Waters (202) 645-6020
The DC Taxicab Commission (DCTC) voted today to initiate a regulatory process that could increase the number of wheelchair access vehicles available in the District, save District taxpayers as much as $1.8 million a year and significantly improve the quality of service for some Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) MetroAccess users.
The action follows an agreement reached between DCTC and WMATA that would allow approximately 100,000 MetroAccess dialysis rides to be taken in taxicabs as well as vans acquired from WMATA by DC taxi companies who qualify to provide the service. Thirty three wheelchair accessible vehicles will be transitioned to taxicab service through the newly created Coordinated Alternative to Paratransit Services (CAPS) program.
The cost of the rides to the District government through the CAPS program would be $17 less per ride than current MetroAccess cost. Thus, the subsidy payment from the District government to WMATA to support MetroAccess will be credited as much as $1.8 million for the actual amount of savings based on the number of rides taken through CAPS.
Those Metro Access patients choosing to use the new CAPS service would be able to make a reservation an hour before the ride is needed. The participants would not be required to share the vehicle or make multiple stops as is done with MetroAccess. The CAPS participants will also see a reduction in their out-of-pocket costs as rides through the CAPS program have a flat rate of $5.00 per trip compared to the $7.00 maximum per trip charge through MetroAccess.
The Commission’s vote today to publish a proposed regulation sets out the conditions that taxicab companies would have to meet in order to qualify for participation in the program. Key among the requirements for the taxi company is to first purchase a surplus van from WMATA and then replace it after 3,000 dialysis rides with a new CNG-powered, side entrance power ramp wheelchair access vehicle. To qualify for participation in the new service companies also must have a central dispatch capability and meet certification requirements for trained drivers. Grants will be provided through DCTC to companies to meet the federal interest of $4,800. As the 33 vehicles are replaced, they may possibly be auctioned or donated to a District based nonprofit that services the disabled, low income or seniors.
In other action, DCTC approved the publication of several final rulemakings to: amend procedures for enforcement of complaints against taxicab owners and operators; establish compliance standards for Payment Service Providers (PSPs); clarify the time period for PSPs payments to drivers and increase penalties for failure to make timely payments; require taximeters to be double-sealed and correct reporting inconsistencies; and update the definition of the integration service fee. A petition submitted by the DC Drivers United for Equal Rights to allow the formation of new associations committed to using wheelchair accessible and fuel efficient vehicles was also accepted by DCTC.