This morning, I needed to have my wheelchair-accessible van sent to the auto shop for repairs. I normally am finished with work around 1pm, so I asked the mechanic to have the repairs done by then and he said it should be completed by the afternoon.
About two hours before I was ready to leave, the mechanic told me that the repairs wouldn't be complete until 2pm.
But that isn't the biggest conflict of this story. Since my van was out of commission, I was forced to find another way home. After brainstorming possible scenarios, I decided to take a cab home.
I pulled up the number for Yellow Cab to arrange to have a wheelchair-accessible taxi pick me up. Once I got through to the operator, it was only a few minutes before I had a ride arranged.
A few moments later, the taxi driver calls to tell me he's here to pick me up. It didn't take long before I was strapped in and ready to hit the road.
I made it home a few minutes later and as I was getting ready to pay the fare, the driver drops this bomb on me:
"That'll be $57," he said.
If I could, I would have fallen out of my chair then and there. I proceeded to ask why a 15 minute trip cost almost $60.
The driver tells me that the mileage only cost around $30, but I was charged a $25 pick up fee because I was in a wheelchair.
You read that right, there's an extra fee just because I am a person with a disability. The driver didn't get into the specifics about why that fee was in place, but he did tell my mom and I that he'd give me a "break" next time. He shouldn't be so generous.
It's things like this that make using a wheelchair so difficult. People wonder why they don't see so many people with disabilities out and about and this is s big reason why. Many of those with disabilities are on fixed incomes, so getting around become nearly impossible when every time you want to go out, it'll cost nearly $100 just for a ride.
This needs to change. Accessibility is an important part of being able to live as a person with a disability, so what happens when you can't even afford the access?
I understand the need to make a buck, but charging people with disabilities an extra fee just because they use a wheelchair is just plain wrong.