Recently, city officials announced the new “Accessible Dispatch” system for wheelchair users in Manhattan. The system, according to The Wall Street Journal, will allow these users to set up a cab ride using either a phone app, the internet, phone, text, or by calling 311. This initiative results from a 10 year study by the Taxi and Limousine Commission to better serve people in wheelchairs. Currently there are 233 wheelchair accessible cabs in Manhattan, the new system will use GPS data from these cabs to notify the nearest driver when a wheelchair user needs a ride. The app launched with this particular service is called Wheels on Wheels, and was developed by Ride Charge Inc., which also developed the Taxi Magic app.
This system strays from the rules in place that don’t allow users to pre-arrange rides with cabs. An important component for making the new wheelchair system work is revenue, collected as a $98 annual fee from the owner of each yellow cab medallion, which resulted in $1.2 million for implementing the system. It is still unknown how many cabs will be needed if the program takes off. The Metropolitan Transit Authority is anticipating that some of its Access-A-Ride users may now switch to using taxis, which may help the authority save money. It is also unknown when this service will be available to wheelchair users outside of Manhattan.