July 20, 2018

City Commits Additional $2 Million To Support Growth Of Wheelchair Accessible Taxicabs In Chicago

Five Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Taxicab Drivers Win Free Medallions for Exemplary Service to People with Disabilities

Lilia Chacon     Lilia.Chacon@CityofChicago.org (O) 312.744.5365 (C) 312.805-9385

Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) Commissioner Rosa Escareno today announced an additional $2 million in funding to support taxicab medallion owners who wish to purchase a WAV or convert an existing vehicle to accommodate wheelchairs.  The incentives are available to taxicab medallion owners who are in good standing and who don’t owe any debt to the city.

“We pride ourselves in our nation-leading transportation system, and ensuring that Chicagoans everywhere, no matter their ability, have access to the transportation services they need is a critical part of that,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, “Chicago’s Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle program is adding more accessible drivers to the street and is a model for cities across the nation.”

Since Mayor Emanuel took office the city has more than tripled the number of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) taxicabs and currently 304 taxicabs are designated as wheelchair accessible.  Mayor Emanuel is committed to growing the WAV fleet to 400 by 2020. The Mayor’s commitments to increase WAV vehicles goes toward expanding and improving accessible service and improving wait times.

 As of June 30, 2018, $5,092,008 has been disbursed from the Accessible Fund in the form of incentives and maintenance subsidies to WAV owners since the program went into effect in 2012.  The WAV incentives include subsidizing the purchase, conversion, and maintenance of vehicles that provide accessible rides.

The announcement was made at the 2017 Taxicab Driver Excellence Awards, in recognition of exceptional service to the disability community and especially those who use wheelchairs and require a Wheelchair Access Vehicle (WAV). The taxicab medallion award presentation took place during the AccessChicago 2018 event at Navy Pier Festival Hall B.

For the very first time, BACP is presenting five (5) Taxicab Medallions, each with a transfer value of $60,000   to the five awardees.  These drivers will also have access to the WAV incentive program to grow their accessible service.  

The winners of this year’s Taxi Excellence Awards for service rendered in 2017 are:

  • Adebola Oyedokun: driving for 31 years
  • Aamir Khan: driving for 19 years
  • Rahmat Ali: driving for 17 years
  • Simeon Letov: driving for 6 ½ years
  • Mohamed Osman M. Ahmed Elbadawi: driving for 5 years

“It is chauffeurs like the five examples we honor here today who tirelessly serve people with disabilities and show a commitment to going above and beyond that makes these awards special,” said BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareno. “Our goal is to increase rides and improve accessible service to our residents. The nominations we received painted a very clear picture of the impact of the service being provided to customers and what exemplary service looks like.”

“Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Taxicab Driver Excellence Awards, and to all drivers who are committed to providing individuals with disabilities with critical transportation options so they can access the city independently,” said Commissioner of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities Karen Tamley. “Empowering our taxicab drivers is one of many ways we are working to ensure all individuals can access the same opportunities to thrive in a world-class accessible city.”

The Taxicab Medallion Excellence Award was created to reward drivers providing services to passengers with disabilities, and the winner is chosen by the Taxicab Driver Excellence Committee. The selection committee is comprised of representatives of:  BACP, the Mayor’s Office for People With Disabilities(MOPD), Access Living, Equip for Equality, Easter Seals, Selfhelp Home, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Life Center, and AON Corporation.

Tammie Jean Flowers wrote about winner RahmatAli, “Driver Ali has been caring for my son Kent for the past 4 years. He deserves to win the award because he goes the extra mile for his clients. He is friendly, kind, concerned and cares for each person.”

Dorothy Lyles said about winner Mohamed Elbadawi: “Mohamed is always punctual, he never rushes, he exudes a cool, quiet confidence in knowing he offers his best service.” “Mohamed is a humanitarian who serves his fellow man in integrity, dignity, respect and is committed to offering his best.”

BACP oversees the licensing of Chicago’s public chauffeurs and public vehicles including taxicabs, transportation network providers, liveries, charter and sight-seeing buses, horse drawn carriages, ambulances, water taxis and tour boats.  The department oversees the purchasing of taxicab medallions, vehicle inspections and rates of fare. Learn more about BACP’s Public Vehicle Operations at www.cityofchicago.org/BACP

 

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