Wheelchair users and individuals with disabilities in Philadelphia will be able to depend regularly on ride-sharing for their transportation needs, as both Uber and Lyft have met new state requirements to ensure wheelchair-accessible vehicles are more readily available in the city.
On Thursday, Uber re-launched its uberWAV service in Philadelphia, which allows riders to request a wheelchair-accessible vehicle from the Uber app. In a statement, Lyft also noted that the ride-sharing service offers wheelchair-accessible vehicles on demand.
“I want to commend Uber for its robust efforts to provide accessible transportation choices in Philadelphia,” said Councilwoman Cindy Bass (D-8th Dist.) in a statement on the service. “The fact that they have exceeded the statutory requirements of the state’s ride-sharing law is laudable, and I encourage commitments from other transportation network companies to increase the number of accessible vehicles for hire in the region.”
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In a statement released Thursday, Uber noted that there is still room to improve accessibility, but the ride-sharing service has “more than 70 driver-partners with WAVs offering rides through the Uber app, single-handedly fulfilling Philadelphia’s accessibility requirement for the entire ride-sharing industry.”
“Whether it’s getting to an urgent doctor’s appointment or a trip to the grocery store, everyone should have access to safe, affordable transportation. But for many wheelchair users, getting from A to B reliably can be a daily challenge,” said Brian Hughes, general manager of Uber Pennsylvania, in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our work with the accessibility community to develop and implement new solutions to address these challenges and make it easier for everyone to work and live in Philadelphia.”
Uber’s UberWAV service costs the same to ride as its UberX service and, according to Uber, the wheelchair-accessible vehicles have room for a wheelchair user as well as four other passengers.
“The city and the Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities, alongside our many disabilities advocacy groups, strongly advocated state legislators to ensure that the WAV requirement was included in the legislation legalizing ride-sharing,” said Charles Horton, executive director of the Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities. “We’re pleased that Uber will provide more WAVs than required over the next two years. I think this is a step in the right direction to providing more inclusive and higher quality transportation options for people with disabilities in the Philadelphia.”
According to Andrew Woolf, general manager of Lyft’s operations in Philadelphia, the ride-sharing company offers wheelchair-accessible vehicles within its app, without the need for a separate service.
"Lyft aims to accommodate anyone in the community who needs a ride. Many disabled individuals, who were previously underserved by existing transportation options, now actively rely on Lyft as a reliable, safe and affordable way to get around. In Philadelphia, we’re proud to have wheelchair-accessible vehicles on the platform to help all individuals get around. To request an accessible vehicle with a ramp, select ‘Settings’ in your Lyft app, select ‘Access’ within the 'Services' category, and request a ride,” Woolf explained in a statement.