October -- November, 2011 Global Access News Travel E-Zine
GLOBAL ACCESS NEWS TRAVEL E-ZINE
VOLUME XII, NUMBER 5, October-November, 2011
Copyright © 2011 Global Access News
Please note: Any Internet links mentioned in this e-zine were verified as functioning as of the date listed at the top of this zine. However, web sites and e-mail addresses change frequently, so changes may have occurred after the above date.
Welcome to the October - November, 2011 Global Access News Travel E-Zine Thanks to everyone for taking the time to write us and share your travel tips and experiences.
FLASHCAB WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE RENTAL FLEET
3. NYC NIXES MORE WHEELCHAIR TAXI PURCHASE
4. HONG KONG: DIAMOND CAB UPDATE
5. ACCESSIBLE TRAVEL GREECE
6. PORTUGAL: CASA DO LAGO WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE VILLA
7. VOLLENDAM CRUISE: OSAKA, JAPAN, PUSAN, KOREA, KODIAK, SITKA, ALASKA
1. AUSTRALIA: FLASHCAB WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE RENTAL FLEET
Dave Wood of Australia’s Flashcab Rentals wrote to share the availability of their wheelchair accessible rental fleet in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, and the Gold Coast. Wood writes: “We have a range of vehicles to suit most groups, families, etc. See our web site for full details of our services at www.flashcabrentals.com.au
Many international travellers and locals travelling around Australia use our services, and we offer terminal to terminal airport services as required for easy access.
Marco wrote to share Rollisquare, a new web site featuring a user-generated map of places accessible to wheelchair users. Users post their own review or check lists of recommended accommodations, attractions, dining options and services in numerous European destinations, including Barcelona, Dublin, London, Prague, Rome and Istanbul. Visit at http://rollsquare.com/
3. NYC NIXES WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE TAXI PURCHASE
Daryl Rock, a wheelchair user from Vancouver, Canada who recently visited New York City, wrote to share his letter to New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg regarding the mayor’s decision not to purchase wheelchair accessible taxis.
Dear Mayor Bloomberg:
Last month I visited your great city and was reminded once again of how wonderful it is! Through the media I learned of your decision to purchase 13000 new taxis and your conscious decision to purchase non-wheelchair accessible taxis.
From many perspectives, most of all economic, I find this an odd if not downright bad choice. There are 2 reasons why: first, by not allowing taxi companies access to the 60,000 or more wheelchair users who live work and play in your city, you are limiting taxi company income in an economic recession. What other business can you think of that would say “no I do not want access to 60,000 new customers?” Wheelchair users I spoke with are not wanting charity, they can and will pay taxi fares. What they want is the ability to hail a taxi whenever they chose, just like everyone else. Second, the loss to your city in tourism dollars.
To illustrate my first point: I visited a friend who uses an electric wheelchair and lives in Soho. We wanted to go to the theatre district for dinner, drinks and a show. This would have meant 2 taxi rides: $50.00, a meal in a restaurant for 4: $200.00, drinks for 4: $100.00, 4 show tickets: $300.00 for a total of $650.00 for one evening out. He called 3 different taxi companies and none would send a wheelchair taxi. With no option we stayed in, ordered pizza and had a great conversation. Cost: $40.00. While this saved us $610 it meant the economy, including the taxi companies, were that much poorer. Multiply this by the thousands of wheelchair users and their friends and you can easily see how the NYC taxi, restaurant, bar and entertainment industries are actually losing out on millions of dollars annually!
To my second point, with respect to tourism, the lack of a reliable, readily available taxi service will keep wheelchair users away. Consider the facts: There are more than 50 million people worldwide who use either wheelchairs or scooters. With an aging population, more and more active seniors with mobility problems will be using scooters to maintain their independence. This demographic represents an existing, and growing economic powerhouse! A recent US study shows that people with disabilities take on average 2.3 trips per year, traveling with at least 2 other people, with each trip lasting an average of 8 days. These wheelchair and scooter visitors have money to spend, like to travel and expect to be treated like their peers. Not being able to access a wheelchair taxi will not be acceptable to them. They, and their money will go to those cities that want their business by accommodating their need for access!
Right now if someone arrives in NYC with a scooter or electric wheelchair they have to book in advance, special transportation to get to their hotel. Once there, they have very limited options: less than 25 % of your subway stations are accessible so people cannot rely on them. Buses are not an option for most tourists - they are time consuming, require multiple transfers and access is inconsistent. Without readily available taxis their only option is wheeling around their immediate area, restricting the sights they see to within walking distance of their hotel. These tourists will stay fewer nights, if they come at all, reducing income for the hotel, restaurant, entertainment and taxi sectors. They will not be able to visit areas other than the one in which they are staying with no money going into the taxi industry and limiting what money they do spend, likely to central Manhattan - an economic loss to other areas of NYC.
I am surprised that the taxi industry of NYC actually supports this decision. It stands to lose millions of dollars in direct revenues every year! When you combine resident and visitor ridership, the direct loss of income to the taxi industry by not being able to accommodate the more than 100,000 potential riders who use wheelchairs is in the tens of millions of dollars. Again, what other industry would ignore a new customer pool of that size? Do these companies have no leaders who understand demographics and the implications of an aging population? How can an entire industry be committed to turning away from millions of dollars in New revenue?
I live in Vancouver, a city region of approximately 3 million people. A wheelchair user can arrive at the airport and get a taxi - without booking it in advance! They also have the option of taking our subway because all stations are accessible! Once at their hotel they can take a taxi, any time of the day, to any area of the city. They can spend their money where and how they chose! Not surprisingly Vancouver is known around the world as a destination of choice for wheelchair users. London England, a city of 8.3 million people also has a fully accessible taxi system - it allows citizens and visitors alike to enjoy all areas of the city.
What would be the cost of buying 13,000 new accessible taxis? It will cost you 25% of the value of each taxi to make it wheelchair accessible. Thus a $30,000 taxi will cost an additional $7500. For 13000 taxis this represents a total of about $95 million dollars or 7 dollars for every resident. Amortized over 4 years this is $23,750,000 per year - about $2 per year per citizen. What’s the value? The taxi industry has access to 60,000 NEW users, just among its citizens. Lets assume each one takes 2 return trips per month at $10 per one way. $40 X 12 months X 60,000 = $28,800,000 or slightly more than 2 dollars per New Yorker going directly into the pockets of NY cab drivers! What about wheelchair and scooter using tourists? Given NYC is a destination of choice for people from around the globe, real access, properly marketed, would result in a direct tourist investment in the hundreds of millions of dollars per years!
Given that the economic return far surpasses the cost, the question isn’t “can NYC really afford to buy accessible cabs?”, but “can NYC really afford not to?”
Global Accessibility Map, Rick Hansen Foundation
Rock added the following postscript:
Interestingly when i shared this letter with someone at the UN rights for people with disabilities I received a response not dissimilar to the one you received from the NS accessibility advocate, they questioned the validity of my comments rather than say "yes there is a problem"... it's as if people don't want others passing negative comments on their city - even if the comments are justified!
4. HONG KONG:
DIAMOND CAB UPDATE
Doris Leung, CEO, Diamond Cab, a social venture providing barrier-free taxi service for wheelchair users in Hong Kong, sent this web site update about their available services since Feb 2011: See http://www.diamondcab.com.hk/taking-diamond-cab.php
5. ACCESSIBLE TRAVEL GREECE
George Dimopoulos, in 1984,
Accessible travel Greece is a full-service
travel agency specializing in wheelchair accessible
travel around Greece. They offer
cruises among the Greek islands and the
Mainland and also provide accessible
accommodations and services.
Learn more at http://www.accessibletravel.gr/ or write email@example.com
6. PORTUGAL: CASA DO LAGO WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE VILLA
Carlos Capaz wrote to announce his fully accessible three-level Casa Do Lago villa on Portugal’s Silver Coast.
Casa Do Lago Villa stands ready to provide fully wheelchair accessible accommodations and a garden and pool featuring:
Fold-down shower seat,
Height-adjustable washbasin, toilet with handrails and small shower
Tap accessible from a seated position,
Stroller and crutches
Wheelchair available for free
Contact Carlos Capaz at firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit http://disable-accessibilities-villa.blogspot.com/
7. CRUISE: OSAKA,
JAPAN, PUSAN, KOREA, KODIAK, SITKA, ALASKA
Shaun & Kim O’Sullivan share their cruising insights aboard the Holland America Vollendam where they found visiting ports of call challenging.
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