SHANGHAI: The city's transportation department is to make taxis disabled friendly.
Before the Special Olympics, to be held in Shanghai in October, 50 taxis will be converted for the disabled. And before 2010, a further 350 will be converted.
Shanghai will be the first city in the country to have taxis capable of carrying disabled people. The city has a population of more than 500,000 physically disabled people, and 2.7 million are aged above 60. Taxis play a major role in their transportation.
The conversion will allow passengers more leg room and the seats can be swiveled for more comfort.
The vehicles will also have larger trunks to accommodate wheelchairs, and will be painted a distinctive color.
Qiangsheng Group, a major taxi operator in Shanghai, has acquired a license for 30 such vehicles.
A manager with Qiangsheng said the company will set up a database of all disabled residents of the city at its call center in a bid to provide an "efficient, caring" service.
"We will also use our best drivers," he said.
From October 2 to 11, more than 7,000 intellectually and physically disabled athletes from around the world will attend the Special Olympics in Shanghai.
Airports and train stations will set up special processing channels for the athletes, and the taxi union has pledged to give them priority service.
(China Daily 08/14/2007 page5)