May 17, 2019

City Announces Recipients of the Chicago Taxicab Driver Excellence Award for Exemplary Wheelchair Accessible Service

Five Taxicab Drivers Completed over 3,000 Wheelchair Accessible Rides in 2018; Awardees Receive a Free Medallion in Recognition for Their Service

Isaac Reichman    (O) 312.744.5365 (C) 312.805.9385 | isaac.reichman@cityofchicago.org

Business Affairs and Consumer Protection

For Immediate Release

The City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) and Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) today recognized five outstanding wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) taxicab drivers. The recipients of the Taxicab Driver Excellence Award have demonstrated exemplary service for people with disabilities over their 64 years of service as Chicago taxicab drivers. Winners were recognized for their service and received a free taxicab medallion at a ceremony today at Access Living Chicago. “Under Mayor Emanuel’s leadership, Chicago has become the nation’s leader in accessible transportation options,” said BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareno. “I am proud of our accomplishments and honored to recognize the efforts of this year’s Taxicab Driver Excellence Award recipients.”

The City of Chicago has more than quadrupled the number of wheelchair accessible taxicabs under Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration, from 91 in 2011 to 384 available
today. Chicago has prioritized improving accessible services by creating an Accessibility Fund that overcomes financial roadblocks to offering wheelchair accessible services. Since 2014, $5.4 million has been dispersed through this fund for purchase and conversion of wheelchair accessible vehicle taxicabs and subsidies for accessible service..

The Taxicab Driver Excellence Award is designed to reward the individuals that drive the growth of Chicago’s accessibility program. Beginning in 2018, the City increased the number of recipients from one to five. The winners of this year’s Taxi Excellence Awards for service rendered in 2018 are:

  • John Meyers: taxi chauffeur for 15 years
  • Mir T. Hassan: taxi chauffeur for 12 years
  • Mohamed Ahmed Salaad: taxi chauffeur for 12 years
  • Ahmed D. Salim: taxi chauffeur for 6 years
  • Ben B. Alawi: taxi chauffeur for 19 years 

The recipients were selected by the Taxicab Driver Excellence Selection Committee, comprised of representatives from: BACP, MOPD, Access Living, Equip for Equality, Selfhelp Home, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Life Center, Gridiron Alliance and AON Corporation. “Our wheelchair accessible taxicab chauffeurs go above and beyond to serve people with disabilities,” said MOPD Commissioner Karen Tamley. “The five awardees stood out as passionate, hard-working taxicab drivers that provide a benefit to our residents every day. Chicago is a better and more accessible city because of their efforts.”

This year’s recipients have unique and inspiring personal stories that led to their commitment to serve the needs of individuals with disabilities. All the awardees take pride in delivering on-demand accessible transportation service, which gives passengers using wheelchairs the freedom of mobility around the City of Chicago for work, pleasure, and medical services Mohamed Ahmed Salaad is inspired by his sister who uses a wheelchair. Mir T. Hassan was motivated to drive the night shift as a wheelchair accessible taxicab chauffeur after a close friend suffered a stroke. He knows there is a need to be filled and expressed to the selection committee that, to him, service is more important than money. "Taxi drivers who choose to drive wheelchair accessible vehicles play a vital role in the lives of people with disabilities in Chicago every day, giving us a way to go about the business of our lives just like everyone else," said Access Living CEO Marca Bristo, who uses a power wheelchair. "The award winners recognized today exemplify excellent customer service."

For the winners, a free taxicab medallions symbolizes independence and freedom from lease payments, allowing these taxi chauffeurs to transition from lease cab drivers to a small business owner. Recipients are also eligible to receive thousands of dollars a year in incentives to maintain and repair their taxicabs through the Accessibility Fund.

BACP oversees the licensing of Chicago’s public chauffeurs and public vehicles including taxicabs, transportation network providers, liveries, charter and sight-seeing
buses, horse drawn carriages, ambulances, water taxis and tour boats. The department oversees the purchasing of taxicab medallions, vehicle inspections and rates of fare. Learn more about BACP’s Public Vehicle Operations at www.chicago.gov/bacp.


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