Columbia to unveil new wheelchair-accessible taxis

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COLUMBIA - City leaders will host an event Thursday to unveil a new service for those who use a wheelchair.

The City of Columbia Disability Commission plans to demonstrate the Wheelchair-Accessible Vehicle Taxi Program at 2:30 p.m.

Sponsors hope the new wheelchair-accessible taxis will help those in wheelchairs travel around town easier.

Taxi Terry's received a grant to make two accessible taxis.

Company owner, Terry Nickerson, said he is thankful he gets to help people that can't help themselves. 

"We have a lot of people that are in wheelchairs that want to go out to dinner at night, or want to go to the movies on the weekends when paratransit is not available," said Nickerson.

The new taxi vans can hold two people in the front seat, two people in wheelchairs in the back seat area and features a lift with wheelchair-securing equipment. 

The City of Columbia ADA Coordinator Adam Kruse said the Disability Commission noticed the limitation of public transit accessibility. 

"That limits opportunities, social and employment opportunities for people in wheelchairs, because they didn't have transportation after 7 p.m." said Kruse. "They didn't have transportation on Sunday's."

The Disabilities Commission asked the council to look into solutions for this issue, and received $50,000 for the program.

"There were a lot of things that these people are limited to that really seems like there should be solutions in place," said Kruse. 

Taxi Terry's said it will always have at least one of the accessible taxis on the streets at all times.

"As we all know, paratransit's budget is steadily getting cut, so there needs to be a backup," Nickerson said "We are the backup."

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