Hartford, Conn (WTNH) - Two taxi cab companies are pushing the state DOT to approve the licensure of 70 new wheelchair accessible taxi cabs.
The prototype for the new wheelchair taxi cab has been shown to state officials. Instead of a passenger seat there is space for a wheelchair, hooks to secure it, a seat belt shoulder strap, and behind it, room for a second wheelchair. All they need now is approval from the DOT.
There is currently just one taxi cab accessible to the disabled in the entire state.
"It never stops, it's booked day and night both with demand response calls and advance reservations," Bill Slazi from Metro Access said.
The need is so great that Metro Access and Yellow Cab company are petitioning for more. The Department of Transportation began the hearings Wednesday. Michelle Duprey was one of those testifying.
"Most everyone in the New Haven area anyway have significant transportation problems," Duprey said.
She says, about 25% of the population is either disabled or elderly. For them, just going to the grocery store or church can be next to impossible. These cabs would change all that, with easy accessibility, and plenty of room inside.
And this cab is green, powered by compressed natural gas.
"It's as safe or safer, unlike gasoline, if you're in an accident and there is a rupture in the tank, the compressed natural gas dissipates," Sclazi said.
There will be two maintenance and fueling centers in the state, with three tanks in the back. Each tank gets about 290 miles. Each cab costs over $46,000, but because they're clean and green, they're subsidized by the federal government.
"There's a great need for this and any assistance the state can provide us in making or communities more accessible would be wonderful. I think a lot of people could really use this service," said Duprey.
The hearing is just for the towns in the Hartford area. They will have another one for the New Haven area next month.
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