Although Chicago is already a very accessible destination, it’s getting ready to ramp up that access a notch, with the coming influx of even more accessible taxis to the Windy City.
And I’m not talking about one or two retrofitted vehicles either. The city will add 50 MV-1 wheelchair-accessible taxis to their fleet over the next several weeks, which will put the number of accessible Chicago taxis to well over 100. And in case you’re not familiar with the MV-1, it’s that same vehicle that’s getting the big thumbs-up from disability advocates in New York City.
So what’s so great about these vehicles? Well first and foremost they aren’t retrofitted — they are purpose built at the factory to be accessible. And that right there means fewer mechanical problems. It also comes with a ramp that has two options — manual or automatic — which also means fewer service failures. And last but not least — they are huge, with plenty of room for multiple passengers and a mountain of luggage.
The addition of these vehicles puts the city well on the way to their goal of doubling the number of wheelchair-accessible taxis by the end of 2018. To meet that goal taxi companies who have a least 10 medallions are now required to have at least 10% of their fleet composed of wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Previously, the requirement was five percent of the fleet for companies with 20 medallions.
And that means we’re going to see even more accessible taxis in Chicago in the coming years.
But wait, there’s more news on the access front in Chicago. A little birdie told me that the folks at Open Doors Organization are working hard to update their online Easy Access Chicago guide. They are busy inspecting properties and compiling information this summer, so look for a new website with updated access information sometime this fall. And that little birdie is sitting across the room from me, busily coding and updating the site.
So it sounds like a winning year for Chicago — more accessible taxis and an updated access guide. What more could you possible want?