Disability Non-Profit Organization Creates ‘Open Taxis’

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - BusinessPeople with disabilities will have an easier time hailing cabs in Chicago, thanks to the City Council’s approval last Wednesday of a new contract that will allow disability advocacy group Open Doors Organization (ODO) to overhaul the city’s centralized dispatch for wheelchair accessible taxicabs. By a unanimous vote, the City Council approved the contract, allowing ODO to take over the management of the WAV centralized dispatch from Flash Cab, the current operator, this fall.

The new system, called Open Taxis, will use Snag technology, which lets passengers use a mobile application on tablets and smart phones to hail the closest WAVs to them based on GPS signals. “Because Snag™ technology is more efficient, and was developed using feedback from both the cab and disability communities, it will make life easier for both passengers and cab drivers in Chicago,” said Victor Arellano, CEO of Driven Solutions, LLC, the Humboldt Park-based technology startup company that developed the Snag™ app.

Open Taxis will also continue to offer the option of phone dispatch via a new telephone, 855-WAV-1010. The TTY number will be announced shortly. Every WAV medallion owner will subscribe to Open Taxis for a monthly fee of $215-down from the $275 fee that owners pay at present. The City will receive five percent of all monthly gross revenue that ODO earns from the system.

“For too long, the disability community has faced serious challenges around transportation in Chicago,” said ODO Executive Director Eric Lipp. “The approval of this contract marks the beginning of a sea change in the quality of life for Chicagoans with disabilities. ODO has developed a game changing system using leading edge technology and relying on what we were hearing from members of our own community–people with disabilities. We are so proud to be able to lead the way in this transformation.”

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