MADISON, WI – For over 11 years now, Union Cab’s wheelchair-accessible taxis have helped make Madison a more accessible city for all. Although grant funding was available in the past, since 2013 Union Cab has operated the service without any city, state, or federal government subsidy. The demand for accessible transportation service in Madison continues to grow, outpacing Union Cab’s current ability to meet the needs of the community.
Union Cab is now calling on the community to help keep this vital service on the road. Since launching their GoFundMe campaign right before Christmas, Union Cab has already raised $1700 towards the purchase and preparation of two wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
Since it was founded in 1979, Union Cab of Madison Cooperative has followed its mission of providing quality transportation services to all the people of the Madison area. In 2004, Union Cab became the first and remains the only licensed taxicab in Madison, WI to provide ADA-compliant wheelchair-accessible service, on demand, 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
The reality is that running this program costs more to operate, while rates have been kept the same as standard taxi rates for passengers. Wheelchair accessible vehicles cost approximately two and a half times what one traditional taxi costs to purchase, additional equipment must be purchased to ensure passenger safety, and drivers of accessible taxis require additional training and a wage guarantee to ensure staffing levels. The extra expense is a small price to pay to ensure that every person in Madison can get where they need to go.
In the past, Union Cab received government subsidies through the Federal New Freedom Program. However, changes in federal grant eligibility have disqualified them for these grants. At first, standard taxi operations kept the losses from the accessible program negligible. However, new unregulated competition in the transportation market has hindered Union Cab’s ability to manage this previously acceptable loss. Each time Union Cab has expanded its wheelchair-accessible fleet, demand for this service has increased accordingly, indicating an ever-expanding and unmet need in Madison.