It is not total lockdown! Essential workers need to move, essential issues need to be attended to, essential services must go on, accessible ride-hail services must be readily available.
In a time like this, many people with disabilities who don't have their own accessible vehicles are finding it difficult to access speedy and reliable accessible transportation. People with disabilities, like everybody else, still need to access essential goods, like medicine and food, and services, like health care during this Covid-19 pandemic. And, all these services can only be accessed through accessible transportation.
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, I engage myself in an accessibility behavior and attitudes towards accessible transportation study. My study revealed that people with disabilities are facing transportation issues. Individuals, diverse in gender, age, disability, and other demographic characteristics are using ride-hail services like Uber and Lyft, but in all, people with disabilities seem sidelined in the scheme of transportation during this pandemic because accessible ride-hail services are on lockdown too.
Many people out there love the introduction of accessible vehicles by ride-hail companies, despite the fact that some of them have an accessible van and may not have used the accessible ride-hail service before. The ride-hail curb-to-curb, on-demand services is surely convenient for people with disabilities who may not have other reliable transportation options. More than 18 different transportation agencies exist in some parts of the country and some of them enable more accessibility with their adaptive vehicles.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, accessible ride-hail trips can be reserved 24-48 hours in advance, and that is when the adaptive vehicles are operating, and not everyone with disabilities is eligible to use them too. Ride-hail adaptive vehicles are reserved only for those who absolutely cannot use fixed-route ride-hail. It is worthy to note, that the process for ride-hail eligibility tests can be frustrating too. With the pandemic, it is almost impossible to access accessible ride-hail services.
John Adams, a long-time transit rider and active wheelchair user said: "Before the pandemic, I use to pull up in the gym. I now spend my time on the computer, I make orders for groceries online and cook. I cannot go out. There is no adaptive transport services during this lockdown,” he said.