Uber has made quite a splash since it began. When you improve upon the idea of common and oft-underperforming taxi service and mix in today’s Web technology and smartphone apps, you can disrupt a previous industry in a lot of really exciting ways. These clever entrepreneurs have incorporated reviews, scheduling, online payments and GPS location – as a result, they’ve made securing a paid ride a versatile and pleasant experience. We’re just beginning to realize the potential of the Internet combined with taxi-type services.

Uber drivers have found that they can gain an edge over their competition by offering more options. Some drivers offer a nicer vehicle, for instance, while others provide complimentary bottled water, snacks and newspapers to their customers.

One particularly intriguing option that has been gaining support from Uber itself is providing services for wheelchair users and others with disabilities. For people with mobility and accessibility challenges, a driver that can provide safe, convenient and reliable transportation “on demand” is an invaluable benefit.


A Pair of Enabling Services

In many cities, drivers are offering wheelchair-accessible transportation services through sites like Uber. But purchasing a van with a special ramp and other accommodating features isn’t cheap. This is where Uber has expanded its programs, and other entrepreneurs have stepped in to enable a great new service for customers with disabilities.

The first such Uber program is WAV. As reported in this article, WAV is an incentive program that Uber is offering its drivers featuring Dodge Caravans transformed into Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) with side-entry ramps. When a driver signs on to the program, they must meet a series of requirements to offset the deposit and the lease payments. It appears that the drivers in these towns have no trouble acquiring enough fares to cover the additional cost of the lease.

The second Uber program that addresses services for people with disabilities, as well as the elderly, is UberASSIST (labeled as UberACCESS in some cities). This program enables drivers to provide services that can range from door-to-curbside assistance to just a helping hand. The service is typically more competitive for a comparable traditional taxi service with handicapped service offerings.


Helping to Change Lives

These types of programs are good news for those with disabilities requiring wheelchair access as well as anyone in need of TLC when it comes to transportation. With services like Uber, it’s easy to schedule a driver on short notice and many people who otherwise would not be mobile on their own, can now more easily get to their jobs, pursue recreational interests, and basically get on with their lives.

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