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A man using a wheelchair hails a taxi. Photo: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

Ride-sharing options are scarce for people who use wheelchairs or have other travel limitations — and the need is likely to grow as the U.S. population ages.

Why it matters: With accessible ride-sharing, AV companies could expand travel options for as many as 15.4 million people who have the means to use ride-sharing services but limited opportunities.

Background: Research commissioned by the American Association of People with Disabilities found that of the 18.5 million Americans with travel limitations (5.7% of the U.S. population), between 11.2 and 15.4 million have the means to afford ride-sharing options. But this group — which includes people with impaired vision, people with epilepsy, older adults and people who use mobility devices — is desperately underserved.

By the numbers:

  • Travel-limited people are 6 times more likely to live in a household without a vehicle. Motorized-wheelchair users are 8 times more likely.
  • Among travel-limited individuals, 5.7 million use wheelchairs and 1.7 million use a motorized wheelchair.
  • Most major U.S. cities have fewer than 13 paratransit vehicles for every 100,000 residents.

Where it stands: Even in large metropolitan areas, the current supply of wheelchair-accessible vehicles is too low to provide reliable, on-demand transportation. This lack of supply cuts across public transit, private transportation companies like Uber, and taxi services.

What's happening:

  • VW, Toyota and Renault have concept AVs that could accommodate wheelchair users.
  • Accessibility features for blind people embedded in the Android and iOS smartphone operating systems, along with application developer tools, could be programmed into human-machine interfaces in AVs.

What we're watching: The market for accessible AVs is large and projected to grow. The U.S. wheelchair-using population is expected to grow 120% by 2022, and the Census Bureau projects that by 2030 an additional 21.5 million Americans over age 55 will need alternatives to driving themselves.

Henry Claypool is a policy expert affiliated with UCSF and the American Association of People with Disabilities, and a former director of the U.S. Health and Human Services Office on Disability.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”