Yesterday the City Council voted to approve an amendment I introduced to reduce the requirements for wheelchair-accessible taxi license holders. It’s designed to create a fairer, more level playing field to ensure this vital service continues to operate.
Wheelchair-accessible taxis provide a valuable service for disabled persons, who have fewer transportation options than most people.
Wheelchair-accessible taxi license holders are required to meet higher driver-safety requirements than regular taxis, and also have a greater financial burden. Their vehicles are significantly more expensive, as they require retrofitting to include a wheelchair ramp. In addition, a condition of the license is that they must take calls for people in wheelchairs countyside. So a driver in Downtown Seattle may need to take a call from someone in Woodinville or Bellevue.
Because of these factors, I believe the number of years they must drive the vehicle before being able to rent it, or sell the license, should be shorter than the 5-year period required for regular taxis. I proposed reducing it to a 3-year period.
Councilmembers voted unanimously to approve the amendment in the Taxi, For-hire, and Limousine Regulations Committee. The legislation will be voted on by the Full Council, likely on March 10.
You can view my comments here.
In August, 2013 I sponsored legislation that also address fairness issues for wheelchair-accessible taxi drivers.