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Tax-funded wheelchair taxis hit Columbia streets

Wheelchair accessible taxis hit Columbia streets for the first time Wednesday.

The city of Columbia awarded Taxi Terry’s three $12,000 grants in July to outfit vehicles to accommodate riders with wheelchairs.

“We are just so excited and thrilled to death to be able to serve the community,” Terry Nickerson, president of Taxi Terry’s, said Wednesday.

The taxi company used two of the $12,000 grants to pay for two vans to be converted into wheelchair-accessible taxis.

Angie Nickerson, vice president of Taxi Terry’s said the company applied for all three but only took two grants because of the cost of each van.

“The $12,000 covered the wheelchair conversion.” Angie Nickerson said. “Even that $12,000 was out of our reach at the moment.”

“When para-transit is closed, which is at nights and weekends, if you’re in a wheelchair and want to go out to dinner at night or go to the movies at night, I mean there’s no way to get there unless you have your own wheelchair van,” Nickerson said.

The van can fit up to two wheelchairs at a time and the ramp is extra wide to fit large wheelchairs.

The van has a spring-loaded ramp, which Terry Nickerson said will not cost much in repairs in the future.

“Over the next three years, we’ll get $1,000 for maintenance,” Angie Nickerson said.

ABC 17 News’ Zara Barker was the first to get a ride in the new taxis. The wheelchair-accessible taxis are also equipped with cameras that record the inside and outside of the van.

Terry Nickerson said his crews will help strap in the wheelchair and there is no extra fee for the time it took them to help.

“It’s all about helping somebody,” Terry Nickerson said.

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