Public Transportation Partnerships Offer Flexibility To People With Disabilities


A person holds a smart phone next to a car

A few cities around the country are entering into partnerships to provide more flexible transportation services to people with disabilities.

In Boston, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has partnered with Uber and Lyft to expand the options of its subsidized transportation service for people with disabilities, The Ride. Traditionally, it had to be shared and booked from 1 to 7 days in advance. 

Now, thanks to the partnerships with Uber and Lyft, the MBTA can offer on-demand services. Trips can be scheduled using the Lyft and Uber apps, while Lyft also offers the option of scheduling a trip by phone. The MBTA started this partnership as a pilot project last September and now it is part of its regular operation. Besides providing a better experience for its customers, the MBTA is also saving costs. It now pays $13 per ride as opposed to $31. This is a big win-win for everybody!

Boston is not the only place looking for ways to improve transportation services for people with disabilities. In Laguna Beach, California, the City Council voted this month to start a pilot program with Uber to provide rides to seniors and people with disabilities. Passengers will get free rides for the first 2 months of the 6-month pilot program. They will be limited to Uber X vehicles, which have a minimum of three passengers per car. A person can schedule a trip by using the Uber app or by calling Uber directly.

Other cities have been studying similar partnerships that reduce costs while at the same time improve the availability of services for people with disabilities. Among them are the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, where Uber has had a sharp growth in the last years, and the Chicago Transit Authority. In Florida, we have also heard about the possibility of a partnership between Lynx (the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority) and Uber. 

We will be keeping a close eye on these initiatives. Their implementation will also help that companies like Uber and Lyft take services for people with disabilities very seriously. We don’t want to keep seeing denials of service like the one our friend and advisor, Judy Matthews, went through last year, when an Uber driver would not allow her service dog ride with her. Just this month, users from Jackson, Mississippi, filed a lawsuit against Uber for not providing wheelchair accessible vehicle in their area.

Thumbs up for the MBTA initiative success!!