Q: When I travel, getting to my destination is only half the problem. What options do I have for wheelchair accessible transportation (other than a rental van) once I’m at the airport?
A: Fortunately, there are extensive resources available within the United States, but making a reservation ahead of time is always advised. Super Shuttle is a nationwide airport shuttle service providing ADA-compliant accessible transportation to and from more than 30 airports and over 50 cities. GO Airport Shuttle is a cooperative global network of locally owned airport shuttle service providers. Member countries include the United States, Canada, Mexico, England, France, Scotland, and Spain. However, accessible vehicles cannot be booked through GO’s online reservation system. Customers with disabilities are advised to contact GO directly for details.
For public transit and paratransit services, resources for the top five busiest U.S. airports are ranked by Airport Council International’s passenger traffic data. (2009 is the most recent year for which complete traffic statistics have been compiled.) Local accessible public transit services and paratransit services (advance-reservation, shared-ride, door-to-door transportation for those who are unable to use public transit) have been included for each city airport listed. ADA travelers’ regulations guarantee a minimum of 21 days of paratransit ridership privileges per year to any visiting passenger who is a registered user of another paratransit service.
1) Atlanta — Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport claims to be the world’s busiest airport. Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) features accessibility throughout its public bus/rail system, as well as an advance-reservation paratransit service called MARTA Mobility.
2) Chicago – O’Hare — Chicago Department of Aviation offers a downloadable guide to O’Hare’s accessibility features and services. Complete details are available from the Passenger Information dropdown menu on the same page. Chicago Transit Authority has a fully accessible bus system. Most transit train stations are accessible. Local paratransit service is operated by Pace.
3) Los Angeles – LAX – (operated by Los Angeles World Airports, offers a complete list of disability services and a published PDF guide for travelers with disabilities. Metro is a fully accessible public transit system with over 200 bus and rail routes. Local paratransit service is operated by Access Services Incorporated.
4) Dallas/Fort Worth — DFW International Airport employs an in-house ADA Coordinator to help troubleshoot any accessibility concerns. Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) operates accessible public transit services and an affiliated paratransit service.
5) Denver International Airport — Accessibility resources include an ADA Compliance Officer and several accessible ground transportation options. Accessible public transit and Access-A-Ride paratransit services are operated by Denver Regional Transportation District.
Among five major global hotel operators contacted (Best Western, Choice, Hilton, Marriott, and the Starwood group of hotel brands) all are required to offer accessible rooms. However, none has a company-wide mandate to include accessibility in any shuttle transportation services provided. If you find a specific hotel property is an exception, please let Travel Matters know. Airport transportation is often available for free to all other hotel guests.
The Paratransit Watch blog includes an extensive state-by-state listing of accessible taxi services. Some of its links may be outdated, but it is an excellent starting point to learn which companies provide accessible taxi transportation. (Note: Washington, D.C., has announced a cooperative project offering the district’s first official accessible taxi service: Roll DC.)