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New App To Link Disabled Commuters With Accessible Taxis

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A local tech start-up and a disabled advocacy group will make getting a wheelchair-accessible taxi in Chicago a lot easier starting in August.

“Oftentimes, people with disabilities are faced with long wait times or no-shows,” said Commissioner Karen Tamley, of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.

She expected a new mobile phone app would change that.

“This is a very innovative, new concept,” said Commissioner Rosemary Krimball, with the Department of Business and Consumer Protection, which oversees the taxi industry.

Krimball said the city has doubled the number of wheelchair-accessible cabs to 175.

However, “we needed to now make sure they get dispatched to the right people.”

Enter the Open Doors Organization – disability advocacy group – and Humboldt Park-based tech start-up Driven Solutions – which created the mobile phone app “Snag Wave.”

“Snag Wave is going to connect a consumer to a taxi driver, and the taxi driver will have a 10-inch tablet installed in the cab,” Driven Solutions CEO Victor Arellano said.

A smart phone or tablet will be able to find the nearest wheelchair-accessible taxi with the app.

If the person needing a cab only has a basic cell phone – or just a landline – the system will still work, because cab dispatchers will have tablets with the Snag Wave app.

Open Doors founder Eric Lipp said, “We are going to create a communication between the driver, the passenger, and the dispatch that doesn’t currently exist; so that everybody gets picked up.”

The system is expected to be in place on August 1.