wheelchair taxi was a little over four hours. After paying an extra $50, Patrick, or Maxwell, the driver, refused to pick me up. He wasn’t equipped to handle a wheelchair and had the rental agreement required the taxi driver to bring someone with a valid wheelchair accessible sticker, the passenger would be charged more. My choice was to either rent a taxi for $80 a day, or get in a taxi that couldn’t accommodate me, and be forced to pay extra, in effect making a disabled person pay a taxi fare for a taxi that couldn’t accommodate their disability.
Moments later a 輪椅的士 drove up to the curb to pick me up, despite the taxi driver insisting that they wouldn’t bring someone who was not disabled in a wheelchair. But it’s not that they didn’t have a wheelchair taxi; they refused to help me.
The Taxi Industry in San Francisco does not encourage disabled customers or permit or train their drivers to take wheelchair accessible vehicles. In fact, wheelchair taxis seem to exist only to drive wheelchair users away from taxis that have less space, where wheelchair accessibility is very limited. By refusing wheelchair accessible vehicles, taxi companies contribute to a transportation system that is inaccessible to many people who use wheelchairs, which could help prevent someone from falling and severely injuring themselves.
If taxi companies could make wheelchair accessible vehicles accessible, many disabled San Franciscans who would benefit the most from wheelchair taxi service would be able to get a ride. The taxi industry is like putting the disabled in a taxi cab that can’t accommodate their wheelchair.
Clearly taxi companies see wheelchair-accessible cars as a threat, and continue to build their fleet of cab that are not wheelchair accessible. Their motivation is profit, not accessibility. Their reluctance to change, and support of discriminatory, wheelchair unfriendly policies, make them look out of touch, a part of the problem rather than an opportunity to bring the industry to the forefront of technology.
I was able to find a taxi that could carry me and my chair into the city without charge. The wheelchair taxi was an hour and a half long, and when we arrived to my destination, my chair had slid backward, tipping over my lap and causing me to break my leg.