Beijing to introduce 800 more accessible cabs in 2015
Asia-Pacific, April 9 2015
Beijing will add 800 more accessible cabs to its taxi fleet in 2015 to better serve people with disabilities and mobility issues, transport authorities have announced. The move also marks the first increase of the city’s total number of taxis in 12 years.
Currently, Beijing has 70 barrier-free cabs, a legacy from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. This year, these cabs will be replaced in addition to 800 new cabs, an official with the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport told the Beijing Daily on Tuesday.
In a barrier-free taxi, the assisted seat can be rotated so that a person with a physical disability can get in and out of the car with ease. It also offers more space in the back of the car and provides easier access for wheelchairs.
Passengers in downtown areas need to call to reserve them two hours in advance. People traveling from the suburbs need to call one day in advance. Increasing complaints have been lodged over the small number of barrier-free cabs, which are unable to meet demand.
There are more than 80 million people with disabilities in China, but they are rarely seen in the streets because of the lack of accessibility.
In Beijing, where recent infrastructure construction has placed more emphasis on handicap accessibility after the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games, facilities such as sidewalks for people with vision disabilities are often blocked or unusable.
Under such circumstances, the increase of accessible cabs is believed an important step in helping people with disabilities. According to the commission, the number of accessible cabs will increase to 2,000 by 2020.
The total number of Beijing’s cabs reached 66,000 in 2003 and has not changed since because of limited road space and pressure over emissions control. Cab transport makes up around 7% of the city’s entire public transport volume, much higher than 4%-5% in other countries.
In 2013, a regulation on cab number control came into force, announcing flexible cab numbers based on market demand beginning in 2015.