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King County seeks taxicabs that accommodate wheelchairs

Several King County cities, including Federal Way, may soon see taxi service catered to wheelchair bound riders.

The county issued a Request for Proposal (RFP), geared toward attracting interested taxicab companies, late last month.

"This Request for Proposal will improve access to the community and to services for many of our residents who depend on public transportation, taxis, and friends and family to be mobile," King County executive Dow Constantine said in a prepared statement.

King County is seeking 15 drivers with vehicles able to accommodate wheelchairs. The taxis will be added to the stock already serving Seattle and areas of King County. The cabs will run both day and evening hours, according to the RFP.

Only full-time drivers experienced with operating a taxicab or for-hire vehicle licensed by Seattle and King County will be considered. Driving records, conduct records and experience transporting disabled persons who use mobility devices will be scored when considering which service provider will be awarded the contract, according to the RFP.

Taxis and drivers that serve wheelchair-bound individuals are existent in the county, but there are not enough of them to ensure timely service, according to the RFP.

"It's something that individual taxi providers do, but not something that has had an emphasis before," King County spokeswoman Christine Lange said.

The request for more wheelchair accessible taxis is based on conclusions and recommendations of the Wheelchair Accessible Taxicab (WAT) Demonstration Project, as documented in the Wheelchair Accessible Taxicab Advisory Committee (WATAC) report and the WAT Demonstration Project staff report, issued November 2009, according to the RFP.

The supplemental taxi cabs will not cost King County any additional funds. Licenses will be administered through existing licensing channels, Lange said. The drivers will be dual licensed, meaning they are approved to pick up both handicapped and non-handicapped passengers.

Drivers will transport passengers in Seattle, unincorporated King County, and the following cities that signed an inter-local agreement with King County: Federal Way, Auburn, Bellevue, Burien, Covington, Enumclaw, Issaquah, Kenmore, Kent, Kirkland, Maple Valley, SeaTac, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish and Shoreline.

The Request for Proposal will close July 8. A service provider will be selected in September. Licenses for drivers will be issued shortly following the selection.

Learn more

To read the full RFP, visit www.kingcounty.gov/wheelchairtaxi.

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