(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The DC Taxicab Commission (DCTC) is establishing a grants program to assist District residents and taxicab companies obtain new wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs). Applications are available to drivers with a valid H-tag and taxicab companies that have met the 6% WAVs requirement. All those receiving a grant must agree to participate in the Transport DC program. In addition, an online sensitivity training program developed in partnership with the DC Office of Disability Rights will be required for accepting the grant.
Grants up to $7,500 will be awarded to offset the purchase of a new WAV, or an annual grant of $2,500 will be awarded to offset the cost to rent a WAV. Grants will also support free disability sensitivity training to drivers. Applications will be available from the DCTC website from July 28, 2015 until the $750,000 in funds has been exhausted or on September 30, 2015, whichever occurs first. The first deadline for submission is August 10, 2015.
Mobility Ventures (MV) is adding their support to this grants program through an offer of special vehicle pricing combined with driver incentives and training. MV will match the first $5,000 of each grant offered by DCTC to the first 20 drivers to purchase or lease a new MV-1 for use as a DCTC accessible taxi. Thus an owner/operator would be eligible for up to $12,500 ($7,500 grant from DCTC, plus $5,000 from MV). MV will allow the owner/operator the option to take their $5,000 as cash or apply it to the vehicle purchase. In addition, a special DCTC Accessibility Price on the MV-1 for an owner/operator participating in this program to purchase a brand new MV-1 is $25,000 for the first 20 drivers.
“The Commission is committed to reducing the burden of regulations on drivers and simultaneously expanding accessible taxi service,” Acting DCTC Chairman Ernest Chrappah said. “We are also pleased to have a public/private partnership to assist District taxi operators to obtain new wheelchair accessible vehicles.”
"Making the economics of the vehicle work is only part of the mission," added Howard B. Glaser, President of AM General the parent company of the MV-1. "Drivers must also be comfortable and professional in working with persons with disabilities.”
Jim Weisman, President and CEO of the United Spinal Association said, "Accessible taxis in the District not only serve residents but make the nation's capital a more welcoming tourist destination for wheelchair users and their families. We applaud DCTC for its efforts to accommodate everyone. "