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(Feb. 28, 2019) Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and Interim PBOT Director Chris Warner joined Ride Connection, transportation providers and partners in the disabled community to announce PDX WAV, a new program to make it easier for Portlanders with disabilities to hail a wheelchair-accessible taxi, Uber or Lyft ride.
Portlanders who rely on wheelchairs generally wait a disproportionate amount of time for a ride, and often are not able to hail a ride at all. To improve service, PBOT has developed PDX WAV, a new program that makes reliable, safe, private for-hire services more accessible for people who rely on mobility devices.
Commissioner Eudaly, whose son Henry uses a wheelchair, said she knows from personal experience that this service can make an enormous difference for people with disabilities.
This partnership between the City and private for hire transportation will directly improve the lives of many Portlanders with disabilities by providing safe, reliable, accessible transportation,” Eudaly said. “Today’s launch of PDX WAV shows that we are making local progress toward equity for all Portlanders and finding innovative ways to collectively achieve our goals as a community.”
"When it comes to taxi, Uber and Lyft rides, we have three fundamental goals," Warner said. "We want it to be easy for Portlanders to get a ride. We want those rides to be safe. And we want those rides to be accessible to every Portlander. With PDX WAV, we're taking a big step forward in providing Portlanders with mobility devices with the same level of service enjoyed by everyone else."
A key partner in PDX WAV is Ride Connection, a non-profit that specializes in transportation for seniors and people with disabilities. Ride Connection will provide the dispatch service for PDX WAV customers during business hours. On nights and weekends, 211Info will handle dispatch.
”The PDX WAV program will begin to address transportation equity in our community and we are honored to play a role in the project by providing dispatch center support,” Ride Connection Chief Executive Officer Julie Wilcke Pilmer said.
To make it easy for passengers who want to take a taxi, PBOT has partnered with Ride Connection and 211 to create this central Wheel Chair Accessible Vehicle dispatch center.
Instead of having to call around to different companies to try and find a ride, customers only have to call one number: 503-865-4WAV (865-4928).
They can call 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, every day of the year. A friendly dispatcher will locate an accessible taxi for the customer.
With that one call, the customer has access to any available taxi provider, and can request the closest available vehicle, regardless of company. Customers can also request their favorite company or driver.
PDX WAV's goal is to have rides pick up customers within 30-minutes. Fares vary by company, but are required to be equivalent to non-wheelchair accessible taxi services.
The program will provide cash incentives for taxi companies, Lyft and Uber to provide the rides, which are more expensive than standard rides because of the cost of accessible vehicles.
Passengers who want to hail an Uber or Lyft can use each company's app.
The new PDX WAV service is made possible thanks to a 50-cent surcharge on Uber and Lyft rides and permit fees paid by taxi companies. Proposed state legislation (HB 3023) would eliminate the surcharge and remove the City's ability to protect local consumers and ensure equal service for people with disabilities.
Commissioner Eudaly implored the companies to work with PBOT to collaborate on ways to expand service across the state without limiting the ability of Portlanders to come up with innovative solutions.
Warner, the interim PBOT director, noted that the City would not be able to collect fees from Uber and Lyft to pay for service for people with disabilities. And the bill would strike down the City's rules that prohibit Uber and Lyft from charging disabled passengers higher fares during times of congestion and high demand, known in the industry as "surge pricing."
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the City’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. Learn more at www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation