OLYMPIA – A bill by Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle, that grants wheelchair accessible taxicabs authority to use high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes passed the state Senate unanimously today.

“This bill would assist those in the disabled community in our state,” Hasegawa said. “Wheelchair accessible taxis cost much more to outfit, which is why there are so few of these vehicles. It is hard to make these taxis economically viable for the owners, and accessible for disabled riders if they are stuck in increasingly bad traffic. The passage of this bill gives a needed boost to both the riders and drivers.”

Under current law, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and local authorities may reserve portions of any highways under their jurisdiction as limited access or HOV lanes. Senate Bill 5018 gives WSDOT and local authorities the ability to grant access to HOV lanes by wheelchair accessible taxicabs. According to testimony given at the bill’s public hearing, there are currently only 53 wheelchair accessible taxis in King County, so the bill should not negatively impact the existing HOV lane users.