Grant program offers $250K to cab companies, aims to increase wheelchair-accessibility 

The city of Madison is set to launch a grant program offering $250,000 for cab companies to purchase more wheelchair-accessible vehicles in an effort to expand taxi services to more people, the Capital Times reported. 

For decades, Union Cab has been the only company to provide 24-hour, accessible taxi services to Madison, and the worker-owned cooperative has lately struggled to keep up with demand. The company currently has only three vehicles available for use that are accessible for riders using wheelchairs or powerchairs. Three additional accessible vehicles owned by the company have fallen into disrepair, and new ones cost around $50,000 each.  

The new grant could double the number of specialized vehicles in Madison. Both of the city’s two remaining taxi businesses, Union Cab and Madison Taxi — which does not currently offer wheelchair accessible service — would be eligible to apply for the grant.  

In Dane County, around 19,000 people aged 18 or older have serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs, according to a 2015–2019 U.S. Census survey. Madison’s newly approved bus system or Madison Metro’s paratransit, a wheelchair-accessible van service, have been pointed to as possible accessible transport options; however, the bus system includes stops that are difficult to reach in the winter, and the paratransit service requires 24-hour notice.