WASHINGTON — Thousands of D.C. residents who have trouble getting around have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving: After public protests, the District is reversing cuts to a discounted taxicab program for paratransit riders.
Beginning Dec. 1, the Transport DC program will again provide rides for any purpose for the first 15 days of each month. The rest of the month, the $5 cab rides will remain limited to work-related and medical trips.
The District’s Department of For-Hire Vehicles quietly announced the return of the two weeks of unrestricted service each month in a newsletter on Wednesday. Earlier, the department had said the cuts were due to budget concerns. But users of the service, advocates and D.C. Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie raised questions after the service was not restored as initially promised at the start of the new budget year Oct. 1.
Transport DC is more flexible than MetroAccess paratransit service and is generally cheaper for both riders and the District government. The District has said it saves $30 per ride when riders choose the cab service over MetroAccess.
While MetroAccess requires trips to be scheduled at least one day in advance and can leave riders on a van for hours, the cab rides can be scheduled within an hour of a trip and provide direct service for those eligible for MetroAccess.
“I cannot use MetroAccess to get there because they never get me there on time,” Melvin Larker, who has used MetroAccess, said last month. “I get picked up three hours early, just to get there two hours late.”