Mini cab firm Uber is to invest more than £1m in a new wheelchair accessible service.
Developed with support from Scope, Whizz-Kidz and Transport for All, uberWAV uses a new fleet of vehicles equipped with a rear-entry ramp to make it easier for mobility impaired and wheelchair dependent Londoners to get around.
Uber says all drivers have received Disability Equality Training from Transport for All and Inclusion London and says initial waiting times will “around 25 mins in zones 1-2 and 40 mins in zones 3-4”. These are expected to drop as the service is expanded.
The firm has previously been the target of complaints from disabled Londoners who have reported drivers refusing to pick them up or declining to accept assistance dogs.
Managers will be hoping the new service changes the narrative about their product which has also been the target of complaints and campaigns by the capital’s traditional black cab trade which accuses it of undercutting and competing unfairly for custom.
Last year a court rejected the cab trade’s complaint that Uber’s app breached laws restricting the use of meter-based charging to black cabs.
Tom Elvidge, General Manager of Uber in London, said: “The launch of uberWAV is an important step forward in making convenient, safe and affordable transport available to everyone at the push of a button.
“This new option will give wheelchair users an additional way of getting from A to B with fares on average 30% cheaper than black cabs.
“We’re proud to be making one of the biggest ever investments in accessible private hire in London and will be working hard to keep waiting times as low as possible as the service expands.”
Faryal Velmi, Director at Transport for All, added: “Transport for All and Inclusion London were delighted to have worked with Uber to develop a disability equality course, designed specifically for Uber partner-drivers and delivered by disabled trainers.
“The training will mean that partner-drivers will have the knowledge and understanding of how disabled people may want to be assisted when travelling. This is vitally important as good assistance can make all the difference to a journey.
“We are pleased that Uber is investing in disability equality training and working to use its technology to provide another additional transport option for disabled people in London.”