On April 13, 2012 thirteen new accessible taxis were introduced to Rhode Island, greatly improving access to transportation for the mobility impaired. Local taxi companies purchased these vehicles, with support of the Federal Transit Administration’s New Freedom Program. The New Freedom Program aims to reduce barriers to transportation services and expand the transportation mobility options available for those living with a disability. Click here, to read more about the program.
The RI Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) and the RI Division of Public Utilities and carriers also provided support to help bring these vehicles to Rhode Island. The taxis will serve seventeen communities in Rhode Island, including Providence, Newport and Woonsocket. T.F. Green Airport in Warwick will also be served.
A Bill to mandate accessible taxis was first introduced in 2005 with the lead sponsor Rhode Island State Representative Elaine Coderre (D) but faced much opposition. The bill finally passed in 2010, but then it took two more years to actually roll-out the taxis. Primary advocates for the taxis were the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities, the National MS Society, Rhode Island Chapter and Ocean State Center for Independent Living.
Access to transportation provides a vital lifeline for people with disabilities to engage in employment, education, healthcare, and community life. Yet too often, people with disabilities lack access to affordable, accessible and reliable transportation options. The Society congratulates Rhode Island for taking this important step forward in providing people with disabilities equal transportation access.