Optimizing Accessible Taxi Service to Augment Traditional Public Transit Services in Delaware

Author(s)Tuttle, Douglas
Author(s)Eaton, Kristen
Date Accessioned2012-02-29T19:01:21Z
Date Available2012-02-29T19:01:21Z
Publication Date2012-02-29
Descriptionpublished and funded by the Delaware Center for Transportationen_US
AbstractAs one of the most rapidly “graying” states in the nation, Delaware soon will be faced with significant growth in the demand for public transportation services that meet the needs of an increasingly older population. This population, moreover, is more likely to require assistance due to one or more disabilities that may affect individuals’ ability to go outside their homes. Coupled with an ongoing shift of the state’s population from the more urban north to the more rural south and a growing desire among older adults to “age in place” if at all possible, the impact this “graying” phenomenon on the state’s already burdened paratransit bus system will become unmanageable unless programmatic changes are implemented. The purpose of this report is to explore the efficacy of raising Delaware’s taxi industry from its current balkanized status to a level of accessibility and performance that will permit it to augment the state’s traditional public transit services. The report’s title employs the phrase “optimizing accessible taxi service” but, as quickly became clear in the process of inventorying the nature and extent of existing services, the term truly understates the magnitude of the change that is required. In Delaware, accessible taxi service really needs to be created, from the curb up. Change undoubtedly will not come easily, given the current characteristics of the state’s taxi fleet. One of the keys to taxi accessibility is the design of the vehicle involved. The traditional approach of modifying vans for the purpose of transporting wheelchair users yields a vehicle that is effective for that purpose but so highly specialized that it is of little use for anything else. The result is longer waiting times while particular specially purposed vehicles travel to their appointed locations, as well as higher operating costs for the service providers. The fact that Delaware’s 100-vehicle taxi fleet currently includes no such conveyances is on the one hand disappointing, but on the other hand a circumstance to be exploited. Current accessible taxi service may be a myth, but that also means no current investment strategies need to be abandoned. Accessible taxi service in Delaware truly is a blank slate. In terms of vehicle choices, the time during which this report has been in production has seen more than one prospect appear to present a path forward, only to drift away. Clearly, the best path forward is to embrace the philosophy of Universal Design, in which the removal of barriers for one segment of society does not simultaneously raise barriers for another. An accessible taxi vehicle should be one that anyone can use, in as simple a manner as possible. Taking that path, however, requires more than theory—it requires available rolling stock. The new domestically constructed MV-1 is just such a vehicle. It is currently in production and available at a competitive cost. The question that arises is how to get the MV-1 off the dealership floor and onto the streets of Delaware in taxicab livery. Some possible strategies are suggested.en_US
SponsorDelaware Center for Transportationen_US
Part of SeriesIPA;382
KeywordsTaxi Serviceen_US
KeywordsPublic Transiten_US
KeywordsUniversal Designen_US
TitleOptimizing Accessible Taxi Service to Augment Traditional Public Transit Services in Delawareen_US
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