Finding Accessible Transportation
As a result of the growth of the Internet, finding accessible transportation in a strange and distance city is becoming easier. Besides the obvious, sites like this one, the existence of yellow page directories for most cities can be very useful. Even if you don't have a name of a company you can go online and using these directories, find out who provides airport shuttle or taxi etc. Then it doesn't usually take more then a call or two to find out which companies can provide accessible service.
Most major cities have at least one company that runs an airport shuttle service between the airport and hotels. The majority of them either can provide accessible service or will provide accessible alternate service. Another way to find out who these companies are and how to reach them is to inquire at a hotel in the area. They may not know if the company provides accessible service but they will know who they are and how to reach them.
A good resource for finding transportation options that is often overlooked is the Center for Independent Living in that city. Most cities have one and they all have an information and referral person. These organizations are a wealth of information about all types of services for people with disabilities. They often can put you in touch with transportation options that are generally used by local residents, but that can be utilized by visitors.
Another often-overlooked option is the cities public transit system or their paratransit system. In the fourteen years that I have lived in Denver I have never been on a public bus and have only used the light rail system once. However, I have found it to be a good source of economical transportation when I'm traveling.
Did you know that if you are eligible to use paratransit in your hometown, you can use the paratransit in any city in the U.S. For those of you not familiar with paratransit it is a door to door accessible service that must be provided by any city in the US that has a public transit system. It is available to passengers that are unable due to disability to use the normal public transit system or in many cases it is more broadly available when the regular bus or train system is not yet fully accessible. The hours and advance notice requirements for use varies widely from city to city so make sure to check it out in advance.
Some cities require travelers to provide proof of eligibility, while others do not. Even if you don't make use of paratransit at home it might be worthwhile to establish your eligibility to make use of it when you travel. If you reside outside of the US and are disabled this service is also available to you. Just contact the public Transit Company located in the city that you will be visiting and ask them for an application. Since processing can take several weeks make sure you start well in advance of your trip.
If you don't need accessible transportation, but want to rent a car with hand controls, they are available by at least the major car companies at most U.S. airports. The length of advance noticed necessary varies and the categories of vehicles that they are available on can be limited. You can even make your reservation through their central reservations number, but there are a few things you should do to make sure everything runs smoothly. At least a few days prior to your departure contact the office located in the destination city. Confirm your reservation and make sure they know that you need hand controls. Also ask about transportation from the terminal to their office. In many cities they use shuttle buses for this and many are still not accessible. If the agent is aware of your situation most will offer alternate service. Generally, they will either deliver the car to you at the terminal or pick you up in the car and take you back to their office to do the paperwork.
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