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Wheelchair Taxi Program Gets Mostly Positive Reviews At Six-Month Mark

Victor Calise tests out one of the city’s wheelchair-accessible taxis – Sep 14, 2012 (credit: Accessible Dispatch)

Victor Calise tests out one of the city’s wheelchair-accessible taxis – Sep 14, 2012 (credit: Accessible Dispatch)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - About six months ago, the city rolled out a program to help people in wheelchairs link up with one of just a few hundred accessible taxis out there.

It allows you to order a cab through 311 or via other methods. To call the dispatch center directly, dial 646-599-9999. To text a request, contact 646-400-0789.

WCBS 880′s Alex Silverman went out to see how the program is doing.

Victor Calise, who heads the Mayor’s Office for People With Disabilities, said the service has been working for him.

“I don’t tell anybody who I am and I just use it an it’s been great,” he told Silverman. “Drivers have been really nice, which is really great. Been asking to… strap me down.”

Calls are up and wait times are down, according to Bill Scalzi, Presdient of Metro Taxi – the Connecticut company that runs the service for the city.

“Probably about 20 minutes. We have some people who get vehicles in front of their door in 8 or 9 minutes,” he said.

Like with any new service, there are scattered issues.

“I had been wounded in a very bad accident,” said Sandra Zanger, who said she called in advance, but it was for naught. “There was no cab. There was no response.”

She had been very excited about the service and was very disappointed when her cab didn’t come, making her late for a doctor’s appointment. Fortunately, the doctor was understanding.

“We know all the data points. If I had her pickup address and information, I could tell you exactly what did or did not go wrong,” Scalzi said.

He said they can actually handle more calls than they’ve been getting, which has been about 80 a day since the school bus strike started. They’ve been giving some disabled kids rides to school.

Have you used the service? Please tell us about your experience in the comments section below.