Despite requirements set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act, access to transportation remains a major obstacle for people with disabilities. According to a survey of 1,650 people conducted by KRC Research for the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center, “Eighty percent of people with a disability and 40 percent of older adults who don’t drive said they couldn’t do all the activities and errands they needed or wanted to do because they couldn’t get around.”
Obstacles to transportation also limit opportunities for employment and socialization, keep people with disabilities unemployed and isolated. But several new ride-sharing apps are offering options for people with mobility challenges.
Cofounded by internationally known opera singer and entrepreneur Ja’Nese Jean, a new app called SAFERIDE provides wheelchair accessible vehicles and ambulances and is the only ride-sharing app that can be paid for through health insurance. SAFERIDE’s drivers receive sensitivity training, defensive driving training, and CPR training. Jean told IssueWire “Our goal is to create a bridge between an underserved demographic as it relates to ownership and influence in a mainstream thriving industry.”
Another ride-sharing app for people with disabilities is due out later this year. Scoot, which stands for Stronger Communities through Open and Organized Transportation, is being developed by an Illinois-based nonprofit called New Star. The app “will make available drivers specifically trained in working with people with disabilities, and with vehicles specially equipped to transport them,” New Star CEO Dan Strick told Disability Scoop recently.
Not to be outdone by these newcomers to the ride-sharing industry, Uber has also gotten into the act. According to the Washington Post, “Uber has long been criticized for its lack of wheelchair-accessible vehicles, and a lawsuit filed by the nonprofit Equal Rights Center in 2017 called out the company for its failure to provide access for passengers in wheelchairs and motorized scooters.” Recently, Uber in partnership with MV Transportation, launched wheelchair accessible ride-sharing in six cities. “MV will supply drivers and vehicles, while trips will be arranged through the Uber app,” said the Washington Post. Later this year, Uber plans to expand its services to customers in Los Angeles and San Francisco.