City could subsidize wheelchair-accessible taxis

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

The City is proposing to subsidize the purchase and upkeep of taxi cabs equipped with wheelchair ramps, in a bid to restore service for the disability community across San Francisco.

The problem is stark, taxi industry insiders say.

The advance of ride-hail giants Uber and Lyft led to sharp declines in the taxi industry — that part of the story, many know. But a lesser-known fallout of the rise of tech-enabled rides is the decline of drivers behind the wheel of specially-equipped taxis for those who use wheelchairs.

As taxi drivers flee an ailing industry, so too have drivers for ramp-equipped taxis, leaving wheelchair-users largely unable to hail a cab. Uber and Lyft do not run ramp-equipped cars in large number, and have been sued by disability nonprofits for discrimination.

The decline of ramp taxi service is a chicken and the egg problem, said John Lazar, former owner of Luxor Cab, which specializes in disability-community service…

Hansu Kim, co-owner of Flywheel Taxi, said boosting ramp taxi service is not just a moral imperative, but also makes good business sense.

“It’s not as lucrative, but the taxi industry, by embracing paratransit services, is a focus other industries aren’t doing,” Kim said, referring to Uber and Lyft. And those new SFMTA incentives will do the trick. Kim said. “It gives me more incentive to put out these more expensive vehicles.”… (more)

SFMTA Board of Directors Approves Policy Recommendations to Improve Parking Access for People with Disabilities

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board of Directors yesterday approved a resolution supporting a set of policy recommendations to improve parking access for people with disabilities. Many of these policy recommendations will require state legislative changes. The recommendations, developed by the City’s Accessible Parking Policy Advisory Committee (Committee), a stakeholder group comprised primarily of disability rights advocates, include proven solutions used in other jurisdictions that are designed to increase access to parking for people with disabilities and improve parking availability for all drivers.

In October 2012, the SFMTA and the Mayor’s Office on Disability convened the Committee, and after six months of collaborative work the group came to a broad consensus on a package of policy recommendations to increase access to parking for people with disabilities and reduce disabled parking placard misuse. Under these policies, the SFMTA will:

  • Increase the number of blue zones
  • Improve enforcement of placard misuse
  • Direct an equivalent amount of SFMTA revenue received from parking meters installed in blue zones to accessibility improvements
  • Seek state legislative support for
    • Increasing oversight of the placard approval process
    • Allowing local jurisdictions to remove the meter payment exemption
    • Allowing local jurisdictions to establish reasonable time limits for placard holders in metered spaces and blue zones

This is where the lobbying comes in. Let the city officials and state representatives know how you feel about SFMTA’s lobbying efforts against the taxpayers of California. This is one of many state laws the SFMTA wants to change. They already reduced the required votes needed to pass a new car license tax for San Francisco drivers. You will see a bill to increase your fees on the 2014 ballot.