Transportation

Getting Around Boston in a Wheelchair Should Be Getting Easier

MassDOT and the MBTA are partnering with Uber and Lyft for accessible rides.


Someone calls an uber

Photo via iStock/Photo via iStock/Mlenny

Accessible transportation in Boston is moving forward with a new pilot program that will make it easier for people in wheelchairs to catch a ride.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the MBTA are partnering with ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft to expand wheelchair-accessible transit options for Bostonians.

The one-year initiative, which kicked off Monday, pays a subsidy to Uber and Lyft for every hour they offer wheelchair-accessible vehicles to passengers who need them. MassDOT and the MBTA expect to cover 50 percent of these costs, with the rest of the bill paid by Uber and Lyft.

Public transit and ridesharing, usually enemies fighting for passengers, have finally found something they agree on.

Massachusetts authorities hope the program will quadruple the amount of accessible transportation options for those in wheelchairs. The services will be available within the same area served by the MBTA’s “The RIDE.”

“I want to thank Lyft and Uber for their participation in this effort, and I’m excited that the MBTA is playing a critical role in expanding access to mobility for our riders and the general public,” said Steve Poftak, MBTA General Manager, in a press release.

The program was proposed by MassDOT and the MBTA, who recognize that the T just isn’t cutting it for people in wheelchairs. While The RIDE is available on demand, the fleet isn’t big enough to serve everyone who needs it, often forcing many to turn to Lyft or Uber on their own dime.

“Our existing paratransit partnership has already helped so many residents enjoy the convenience and freedom of on-demand ride sharing,” said Tyler George, the New England General Manager for Lyft, in a statement. “With this new program, MassDOT and Lyft continue working together to ensure riders have affordable and reliable ways to get around.”

Even though Uber and Lyft have been serving people in wheelchairs for years, the companies have never participated in an initiative like this until now. If the pilot goes well in the greater Boston area, MassDOT and the MBTA will be looking to expand it across the state.