Some Uber Ride Offerings Are Wheelchair Accessible
PHILADELPHIA — Uber is allowing riders to hail vehicles run by a national paratransit company, to increase the number of wheelchair-accessible vehicles available in Philadelphia.
Since July, MV Transportation vehicles have been taking requests for rides through the San Francisco-based tech company’s platform. Uber won’t say how many wheelchair-accessible vehicles are now operating in the Philadelphia region, saying only that there now is three times the volume of service and that the average wait time in the city is slightly more than 12 minutes. The state requires a minimum of 70 wheelchair-accessible vehicles operating in Philadelphia between Uber and Lyft.
The contract allowed MV Transportation to also offer service through Uber in New York City, Boston, Washington, Chicago and Toronto. MV Transportation is expected to begin partnering with Uber in Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2019.
“We are invested quite heavily in this,” said Uber’s Malcolm Glenn, who leads efforts to improve the company’s accessibility in underserved communities. “In the first year, we are likely to spend tens of millions of dollars on this.”
Under the contract, MV Transportation recruits, pays for, and puts drivers through the training needed to be eligible, Glenn said. Uber continues to allow other drivers with accessible vehicles to provide service to customers in wheelchairs.
The improved service has been noticed. “The last couple of times I rode Uber, my wait was under 10 minutes,” said Theresa Yates, who uses a wheelchair. “Previously I had to wait 15 to 20 minutes.”