Metro to launch Abilities-Ride paratransit service to encourage accessible taxi use as alternative to MetroAccess

Americas, Transportation, September 11 2017

MetroAccess customers will have a new, more flexible option for travel within Maryland with the launch of the Abilities-Ride program on Monday, September 18. The new program offers an alternative to MetroAccess service by allowing eligible customers to use on-demand taxi services–without sharing a ride–at a discounted rate.

MetroAccess paratransit van. Photo: WMATA

The Abilities-Ride program offers subsidized rides in partnership with Regency Taxi and Silver Cab. Eligible MetroAccess customers can request transportation through these providers for any trip that begins and ends within the MetroAccess service area in Maryland. Riders can request their trip in advance by calling the taxi company directly, or through their respective websites or smartphone apps.

“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 Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “The Abilities-Ride program gives customers these important benefits while reducing cost for Metro.”

MetroAccess customers will pay as little as $5.00 per trip to use Abilities-Ride. An estimated fare will be provided to the customer before taking a trip. Customers pay the first $5 with Metro funding the next $15 in fare. Any remaining fare over $20 will be billed to the customer.

The two designated taxi providers will offer wheelchair-accessible vehicles and accommodate customers traveling with a personal care assistant (PCA) and/or a service animal at no additional charge.

By avoiding more expensive MetroAccess 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.

Upon the launch of the program, customers will be able to take a maximum of four (4) taxi trips per day. Reservations are encouraged, but not required.

All drivers operating taxi service under the Abilities-Ride program will be required to undergo training on how to serve customers with disabilities, including those traveling with service animals, and accommodating customers who are deaf or hard of hearing or visually impaired customers who may need assistance getting in and out of the vehicle.

The program will be evaluated based on customer feedback, safety, service quality and fiscal impact to determine whether to expand Abilities-Ride to the District of Columbia or Virginia.

The Abilities-Ride program is an option for MetroAccess customers, and Metro will continue to offer door-to-door shared ride service on MetroAccess for trips throughout the District, Maryland and Virginia.

Additional information on Abilities-Ride will be provided to MetroAccess customers in the next week.

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