Disabled Best Serviced By Taxi Industry

 A leaked document published in August 2015 by Reuters Wire Service confirms what many in the transportation industry already know: “Uber is a global force,” with worldwide bookings projected to increase 141% from 2015 to 2016.

Yet as Uber continues to rise in popularity with what The Walrus author Jonathan Kay describes as the “hip-and-able-­bodied-condo set”, it’s leaving a significant ridership in the dust.

Uber leaves disabled riders behind

Uber’s Business Isn’t Built to Help Disabled People, ” reads the headline to Wired contributor Issie Lapowsky’s take on the issue. She points to Uber’s persistent declaration of its status as a technology platform, not a taxi company, as the main reason why the service is unreliable for disabled people.

Since Uber does not require any of its drivers to have wheelchair­ accessible vehicles, it’s a true gamble for people who need assistance with their wheelchairs.

And it goes beyond wheelchair accessibility. For any person who requires specific care when being transported, Uber is not prepared to accommodate. As Lapowsky notes, “Uber is not a fleet operator capable of handing down mandates to its drivers.”

Whereas taxi school teaches its drivers to operate with accessibility and safety in mind, Uber leaves that lesson plan up to its drivers intuition. Taxi companies can enforce policies and processes to ensure every customer enjoys a safe and comfortable ride. Uber simply falls short.

Some disabled riders have taken action. This year a number of lawsuits were launched across California to Texas, alleging that Uber “violated the Americans With Disability Act, by failing to make their cars handicapped accessible.”

Reports of service animals being crammed into trunks, while people with wheelchairs are being abandoned on the side of the road paint a disturbing picture of how far away Uber is from addressing a serious issue.

Disability in Canada

Globally, over one billion suffer from disablity requiring help with everyday tasks. Up to 11% of Canadian and 13% of American adult populations have a physical disability, representing 4.4 million and 13 million people respectively. There is a great need for accessible transportation.

It’s a need Uber cannot deliver on, but taxi companies can.

Creating great experiences for disabled riders

Taxi companies have the foremost benefit of offering licensed, trained drivers upholding company protocol for providing service to disabled customers. Poor service can be reported back to the company, and the driver can be held accountable.

With a digital dispatch system, taxi companies can track rides in their vehicles or on their drivers’ smartphones to provide monthly billing services for disabled customers who make frequent and/or scheduled trips.

Digital dispatch also allows for more flexibility for customers, disabled or not, to book a ride without needing to plan in advance. Taxi companies with accessible vehicles have the advantage of being able to provide efficient, timely service to all riders.

For riders who require caretaker supervision, a smartphone trip booking app provides security and peace of mind with GPS tracking of the cab driver’s whereabouts. From an Android or iOS device, customers can watch the driver arrive, pick up and drop off the rider in real time.

Accessibility is valuable

Journalist Stephen Trumper, who uses a wheelchair, is quoted in Kay’s article saying, “The lack of accessible vehicles is one of the reasons the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is so high ­ 25 to 30 percent.”

Taxi companies with the resources to provide accessible services for all riders have an advantage in today’s marketplace. It’s worth promoting, and more important, it’s worth improving.

What can you do to improve the accessibility of your taxi company? Book an appointment with a Taxi Commander solution specialist to get more information about the right solution for your business!