Washington Metro Launching Abilities-Ride Program This Month

"The Abilities-Ride program is a win-win for Metro and our MetroAccess customers in Maryland, who will soon have the ability to choose a taxi trip, rather than MetroAccess, at a discounted rate without having to make an advance reservation," said Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld.

Customers who use MetroAccess, the door-to-door paratransit service offered by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA or Metro to locals) will a more flexible option for travel within Maryland when the transit agency launches an Abilities-Ride program on Sept. 18. The new program offers an alternative to MetroAccess service by allowing eligible customers to use on-demand taxi services, without sharing a ride, at a discounted rate.

WMATA announced it Sept. 6. The Abilities-Ride program will offer subsidized rides in partnership with Regency Taxi and Silver Cab. Eligible MetroAccess customers can request transportation through these providers for any trip that begins and ends within the MetroAccess service area in Maryland, and they can request a trip in advance by calling the taxi company directly or through their respective websites or smartphone apps.

"The Abilities-Ride program is a win-win for Metro and our MetroAccess customers in Maryland, who will soon have the ability to choose a taxi trip, rather than MetroAccess, at a discounted rate without having to make an advance reservation," said Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. "The Abilities-Ride program gives customers these important benefits while reducing cost for Metro."

According to the agency, MetroAccess customers will pay as little as $5 per trip to use Abilities-Ride, and an estimated fare will be provided to the customer before he or she takes a trip. Customers pay the first $5, with Metro funding the next $15 in fare and any remaining fare over $20 being billed to the rider.

The two designated taxi providers will offer wheelchair-accessible vehicles and accommodate customers traveling with a personal care assistant (PCA) and/or a service animal at no additional charge.

By avoiding more expensive MetroAccess trips, the Abilities-Ride program is estimated to save Metro $4 million to$6 million per year; each trip taken on MetroAccess costs Metro about $50 per trip currently.

Once the new product has launched, customers will be able to take a maximum of four taxi trips per day. Reservations are encouraged but not required.

Drivers operating taxi service under the Abilities-Ride program will be required to undergo training on how to serve customers with disabilities, including those traveling with service animals, and accommodating customers who are deaf or hard of hearing or visually impaired customers who may need assistance. The program will be evaluated based on customer feedback, safety, service quality, and fiscal impact to determine whether to expand Abilities-Ride to the District of Columbia or Virginia.

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