If you've recently suffered a debilitating injury or illness that has left you unable to drive, you may be at a loss as to how to get around to run errands like grocery shopping, go to doctor's appointments, or visit family members. This is even more true if you live in an area without a strong public transportation system with handicap-accessible bus ramps and subway elevators. Fortunately, the aging Baby Boomer population has led to a boom in the number of private transportation options for those who are no longer able to drive. Read on to learn more about the best handicap-friendly transportation options for those in just about any size of city (or even town).
If you need to make a quick trip into town and would like a driver who can wait on you until you're finished, you may want to utilize a private taxi. When you sign up for a private taxi website or smartphone app, you should be able to use "handicap-friendly" as a criteria in your search, allowing you to narrow down the pool of potential options to only those who will be able to provide you with the assistance you need. This can include anything from a bit of help getting into and out of the car to helping fold up your wheelchair or retrieve your crutches and place them in the trunk. Because private taxis are operated independently, rather than through a larger fleet, you may be able to make separate arrangements with your driver to assist you once you've arrived at your destination.
Public or city taxis
For those in medium-sized or larger cities who need to make a longer (or one-way) trip, a taxicab may be a good option. Most taxi-drivers are able to assist you with the accommodations you may need, and you'll enjoy a private and comfortable ride. Paying for a taxi to wait fare-less while you wrap up your trip may become expensive, but if your city has a healthy taxi fleet (as most medium or large cities do), you'll be able to summon another handicap-accessible taxi as soon as you're finished.
These services, formally referred to as "paratransit," are actually required by the federal government to be made available for those who need transportation assistance due to disability. The scope of paratransit services can vary widely by city and state, but these services are generally low-cost compared to private or public taxis, and you may be able to receive a fee waiver or other assistance if you're low-income enough to qualify. Paratransit vehicles are generally small buses or large passenger vans, allowing the driver to pick up multiple passengers and consolidate trips to keep costs low.
One potential drawback to paratransit services is the wait time due to the number of individuals an area services -- if you're scrambling to get to a last-minute doctor's appointment or have another urgent deadline, choosing a speedier form of transportation may be necessary to get you to your destination on time.
Transportation escort services
These services are similar to paratransit services but are available to those who have more significant disabilities that cause major impairment with mobility or cognition. Transportation escort services are operated by a network of volunteers who receive special training in assisting handicapped individuals into (and out of) the vehicle, accompanying passengers to doctor's appointments and helping with the check-in process, and even accompanying passengers on a grocery shopping trip to retrieving items from high or low shelves or load groceries onto the conveyor belt. This service is ideal for those who need some extra assistance not only traveling to and from their destination, but accomplishing what they set out to do on each trip.
For more information and options, talk with transportation and taxi services in your area, such as White Top Cab Company.
As soon as I started traveling worldwide for work, I realized that I needed to work hard to understand the travel restrictions for some of the places where I would be going. After I tried to board a plane with a pack of playing cards to Germany and I was turned away, I realized that there were some finicky countries out there. I worked hard to research each and every place where I would be visiting, and within a few months I felt like I had the hang of things. This blog is filled with fun information about travel and tourism so that you can enjoy your travels and your work trips.