Uber has transformed the way people get around, replacing traditional taxi cab services as the transport option of choice for many. However, if you’ve got any type of mobility challenge, the Uber experience has been less than satisfying. Wheelchair users often found themselves out of luck entirely, as no appropriate vehicles were available to them, and there have been reports of people who use canes or walkers running into resistance from Uber drivers who were reluctant to provide service.
According to Boston.com, three Massachusetts organizations—the Disability Law Center, the Disability Policy Consortium, and the Boston Center for Independent Living – are working with Uber to improve the situation. There’s no doubt that services like Uber and Lyft are an established part of metropolitan transport. The next step is making them accessible to all. A program called UberAccess provides services to wheelchair users; additionally, increased functionality is being built into the Uber app to make it easier for visually-impaired and hard-of-hearing people to use.
These changes address some of the issues with Uber, but there are still concerns remaining that are particularly relevant to the disabled community. Screening of drivers continues to be an issue; while there have been no reports that we can find of physical or sexual assaults on a disabled passenger, these type of incidents have occurred in general. There’s also the issue of so-called surge pricing, where bad weather, heavy demand, or other factors can cause Uber drivers to raise the price of their service exponentially. As a community, we will keep an eye on these developing issues and share with you what we know as we know it.