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Transportation Around Town
Self-Service Gas Pumps
The Department of Justice ruled that gas stations with self-service gas pumps must provide equal access to customers with disabilities. Upon request, an attendant must provide refueling assistance and the disabled customer must still get the self-service rate. Gas station management must display signage to let disabled patrons know they may request assistance either by honking or signaling a gas station employee. A gas station or convenience store that sells gas is not required to provide such service at any time it is operating on a remote control basis with a single employee, but is encouraged to do so, when possible.
Adaptive Driving Programs offer freedom to many people who thought their driving days were over. Adapted equipment of all kinds (not just hand-controls) compensate for many types of deficits, from siren detectors for hearing loss, to quad key-holders, to steering knobs and grips. Besides all the new modifications that can be made to cars, rehabilitation specialists who facilitate driver's rehabilitation programs, re-train drivers to give them a better sense of timing, to estimate distance accurately, to steer accurately, and replace whatever skills are needed for safety and efficiency. Drivers are trained in specially modified cars and vans and adaptations accommodate most physical impairments, even telescopes for reading street signs. Driving rehabilitation specialists will not put a driver on the road until he or she can demonstrate complete competence. See our Driving section for more information.
Under title III of the ADA, businesses that operate shuttle systems on a "fixed route," (including hotel shuttle services) are required to ensure that any newly acquired or leased vehicle large enough to carry more than sixteen persons are made accessible to passengers with disabilities. Avis, the nation's second largest rental car company, provides accessible airport shuttle buses at all of its airport locations across the country, under a settlement agreement reached with the U.S. Department of Justice, following an ADA, Title III violation.
Ride Sharing (Uber)
UberASSIST: uberX partners have received training on the necessary knowledge and safety requirements for those with accessibility needs. It is designed for additional assistance for the senior and disability communities. Drivers can accommodate folding wheelchairs, walkers and scooters. These vehicles do NOT have accessible ramps.
UberWAV: Drivers are knowledgeable of accessibility needs and requirements of riders who need wheelchair accessible vehicles with a ramp or hydraulic lift for transportation.
To request an ACCESS vehicle, open the Uber app, Select ACCESS on the vehicle icon slider and choose either uber ASSIST or UberWAV. Contact your driver ahead of time with any specific needs.
Choices for Mobility Independence & Transportation Options for Older Adults
National Aging and Disability Transportation Center
Wheelchair Getaways rents adaptive vehicles, both wheelchair and scooter accesscessible vans in almost every city in the US. They carry vans from manufacturers such as Vantage Mobility and Braun. Contact them at 800.642.2042.
Accessible Vans of America provides rental vans with accessible features such as lowered floors, 4 point tie down systems and seatbelt, powered ramps and wheelchair lifts. Hand controls, steering knobs and other accessories are available. Contact them at 866.224.1750.
Wheelers Handicapped Accessible Van Rentals provides vehicles from Braun, Amerivan, Vantage International and others. They carry full-size and minivans equipped with wheelchair lifts or ramps 4 point tie-downs and seatbelts, raised or lowered floors, and front and read air-conditioning and heat. Some vans have hand controls, six way power seats, and remote control doors and ramps. Available in 31/50 states. Call 800.456.1371.
Ride Away or Wheelchair Vans of America provides Dodge and Chrysler side-entry mini van wheelchair vans at 18 locations. They also have rear-entry mini vans for longer wheelchairs and full size Ford vans with a BraunAbility lift on the side or back that are available with a reservation. Curbside pick up is available. Call 800.910.8267.
Superior Van rents in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Louisiana. They carry mini vans with lowered floors, power doors and ramps. Hand controls and steering knobs are available upon request. They offer 125 daily miles free, after that is a cost of $.35 per mile.
Public Transportation in Chicago
Taxi Access Program
The Taxi Access Program provides "ADA Paratransit Certified" customers an opportunity to travel in taxis at reduced rates for trips that originate within the City of Chicago. Use the Swipe Card to purchase additional trips and go online to view your trip record. Find out the the balance on your card online or by calling 877.722.3827. Vouchers are no longer required. Create a personal account here and purchase trips online.
ADA Paratransit service is a shared ride, advanced reservation, origin-to-destination service for individuals who are unable to use CTA or Pace fixed route transit service. The RTA ADA Paratransit Certification Program determines an individual's functional abilities and limitations for using fixed route services. To apply for ADA Paratransit, call 312.663.4357 between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday to request an application. Applications are available in regular or large print English, regular print Spanish, Braille or on audiotape. An in-person interview is required and you may be asked to take a "mock" bus trip.
Accessible Taxi Service
Call Open Taxis, the centralized dispatch for all Chicago wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAV) 24/7 for immediate pickup or pre-arrange a trip at 855.928.1010. Text your request: 773.609.5321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Download the iOS app or Android app to place your order. Open Taxis services the City of Chicago and all the airports.
All CTA buses throughout Chicago can "kneel" or lower the bus. All have ramps at the forward doors, priority seats and wheelchair securement areas. Braille signage and automated voice announcemnts are available for those who are blind or have low vision. The LED signage on the CTA busses enables people who are deaf or have low hearing to access important information.
All trains have space for wheelchairs and most have a designated wheelchair securement area and ADA-compliant doors. All rail cars have Braille signage, priority seating and automated voice announcements.
A large percentage of train stations have ADA-compliant elevators or ramps. All stations have gap fillers to bridge the space between the platform and the rail car. Customer assistants are availalbe to assist customers with disabilities at the rail stations.
The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) offers a reduced fare permit to people with disabilities and seniors 65 and older. Call RTA at 312.913.3110 (voice) or 312.836.4949 (TTY) to apply or apply in person at the RTA's Customer Service Center at 69 W. Washington St., Lower Level Pedway or any other registration site in the region. This link will give you an application if you prefer to apply by mail.
Plan the transportation for your trip using the services of the CTA, Metra and Pace. Plan up to 2 weeks in advance by checking train and bus schedules.
Midway & O'Hare Airports
Both airports in Chicago have direct CTA train service into downtown from their own stations. Catch the Blue Line train inside O'Hare Airport to downtown, or the Orange Line train from Midway Airport to downtown. Both public buses and private motor coach companies (some provided by downtown hotels) travel into and around the Chicago area. To plan a trip from the airport, call your hotel concierge or 1(888) 968-7282 or 1(888) YOUR-CTA.
Ground Transportation Options from Midway including information on shuttles, taxis, trains, parking, maps and car rental.
Ground Transportation Options from O'Hare including information on shuttles, taxis, trains, parking, maps and car rental.
A shuttle is probably the most practical option after accessible taxis. GAE shuttles leave O'Hare and Midway Airports several times an hour. To make a reservation, call 888.284.3826 or book online. GAE requires a 48-hour advance notice for a lift-equipped vehicle. Here is a link for their iOS app.
A very useful option is to contact the hotel where you'll be staying and ask if they provide lift-equipped shuttle service for guests to/from the airport. Many Chicago hotels do and there are many hotels located in the loop and north loop.
This is easy and very do-able so don't worry! CTA riders with a wheelchair or a scooter can board an elevated train with a gap-filler—a portable ramp that is locked into place by a customer assistant (C.A). It's very simple: Go to any "el" station that has an elevator. (Both airports have wheelchair accessible train stations) and request a gap-filler. Your C.A. will ask you where you're headed and will insert the gap-filler into the train's doors before it departs, so you can board. Ask for the head car so you can communicate with the conductor, if necessary.
The CA. will radio ahead to the C.A. at the other end who will also meet your train with a gap-filler, so you can deboard. The C.A. can tell you whether or not the elevator is working at the other station, or whether you must choose another station to deboard at. Should the C.A. at the other end fail to meet your train, just press the call button to notify the conductor that he or she needs to get the gap-filler. That's not usually necessary since the conductor is usually watching to make sure the C.A. shows up and you have time to deboard before the train leaves the station.
Another useful resource available to riders is CTA phones at all elevated platforms. Just dial *1 to be connected to the CTA travel information line: 1(888) 968.7282). (Elevator status is updated three times daily.)
Special Needs Chicago
Bus Access Laws: The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) issues specific regulations for wheelchair accessibility on over-the road, fixed-route, and charter buses.
Since October 2001, all newly acquired or leased over-the-road buses large enough to carry more than sixteen persons, such as national bus lines, private motor coach bus companies, and other charter companies, must provide a lift-equipped vehicle within 48 hours of a traveler's request. At all rest stops , bus companies must also provide time and assistance for passengers to leave the bus, use the facilities and re-enter the bus. If the bus company owns, leases, controls, or contracts with a rest stop facility, it must ensure that the rest stop meets ADA accessibility requirements.
Fixed-Route Buses, such as buses used in public transportation systems, must provide lift-equipped vehicles to most of their fleet for on-demand requests by travelers in their own wheelchairs.
If you will need assistance on Greyhound, contact the Travel Assistance Line at 800.752.4841 before traveling. When booking your trip in a terminal notify the ticket agent if you need assistance and if you will be traveling in a wheeled mobility device. If booking online, self-select as a passenger traveling in a wheeled mobility device if that is the case. If you purchase your ticket over the phone, tell the ticket agent if you will be using a wheeled mobility device. Other recommendations for traveling on Greyhound can be found by clicking the link above.
Amtrak encourages those who require wheeled mobility device space, transfer accessible seats and accessible room accommodations to make a reservation to ensure availability. Amtrak offers a 15 percent discount on tickets for adult passengers with a disability and up to one traveling companion. The link above addresses other questions such as traveling with oxygen equipment, service animals, and station accessibility.
Easter Seals Project ACTION (Accessible Community Transportation in our Nation)
US Department of Transportation Accessibility Page