Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In Some Cities, Uber Adds Service for People with Wheelchairs

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In Some Cities, Uber Adds Service for People with Wheelchairs

Article excerpt

An Uber fleet that is (finally) wheelchair-accessible.

As of Tuesday afternoon, London is the latest of more than 10 cities worldwide with Uber vehicles that can accommodate all wheelchair types, an improvement over only accepting folding wheelchairs.

Wheelchair-accessibility is one of the rideshare company's programs being unveiled in cities on either side of the Atlantic to expand its services to all customers. The move comes as Uber and competitor Lyft face allegations they have discriminated against people with disabilities, one of a growing list of complaints facing the rideshare companies.

UberWAV, as the program is called, is "a step in the right direction," Ruth Owen, chief executive of Whizz-Kids, a London- based organization that supports children with disabilities, and one of several British organizations that have applauded Uber, told BBC.

"This new initiative will give disabled people in London a much- needed additional option for planning their travel across the [nation's] capital."

Members of the organization test rode the service Tuesday.

Hailing an Uber vehicle that is wheelchair accessible in London will be easy - just push a button. After a customer selects the UberWav option in the mobile application, they are connected with vehicles equipped with ramps or lifts. The vehicles will be able to accommodate a second passenger in addition to the wheelchair user, the BBC reported.

Uber plans to invest more than 1 million pounds (more than $14.4 million) over the first 18 months to launch the program, according to BBC. A spokesman told WashingtonNewsWire that the company is providing 55 vehicles in the new fleet but planned to expand this to more than 100 "in the coming months."

The program is an expansion of UberAssist, which allows senior citizens and people with disabilities to request extra assistance for UberX, its cheapest rideshare program. …

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