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D.C.'s Accessible Cab Drivers Matter As Much As Cabs Themselves

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Taxi driver Jim Lane secures his first passenger, Bobby Coward, in his new wheelchair-accessible cab.
David Schultz
Taxi driver Jim Lane secures his first passenger, Bobby Coward, in his new wheelchair-accessible cab.

Thanks to a million dollar federal grant, 20 new minivan taxis equipped with retractable wheelchair ramps will be on the streets of Washington.

And behind the wheels of these taxis will be people like driver Jim Lane.

"We do our job as normal, with the exception of moving chairs in and out," he says.

One of Lane's potential clients, Bobby Coward, says Lane is being modest. Coward's been confined to a wheelchair for two decades, and he says when it comes to transportation for people with disabilities, the vehicle is often less important than the person operating it.

"You know, how would the driver respond if the individual with disabilities is having a crisis, some type of medical outburst?" he says. "What do you do? You've got to respond quick."

In addition to learning how to move the wheelchairs in and out of the taxis, the drivers also receive sensitivity training for their new clientele.

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