uberASSIST to help Cape Town's special access needs riders get going

2017-04-17 10:30 - Louzel Lombard Steyn
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Cape Town - Can we please get a standing ovation for the latest initiative from Uber!? The global transportation network company has launched a pilot in Cape Town called uberASSIST - a new option that caters for senior riders and riders with access needs.

According to Alon Lits, GM for Uber sub-Saharan Africa, the pilot programme in Cape Town is for Uber "to gather necessary data in order to understand how best it can work and understand who uberASSIST is adequately able to cater for".   

"Everyone should have ways and means to navigate around their own city," Uber says. "But when one has special needs, getting from A to B can be far more challenging." 

So, they thought, accessibility should be available for all. Viva! 

uberASSIST aims to step up and offer assistance to those that require it when travelling from one point to the next, offering a safe and reliable option for these underserved riders that are not as mobile and able to move around their city as others. 

Transport for someone with access needs can also be expensive, often requiring paid-for help such as caregivers to assist. But Uber says they hope the new uberASSIST option will be an affordable alternative for those with access challenges. 

In order to provide the best service to riders with special needs, Uber invited only the top rated driver-partners to be part of the uberASSIST pilot - drivers interested then opted-in to the pilot. 

Uber partnered with DG Murray Trust (DGMT), a private foundation which supports initiatives that aim to bring about dynamic and fundamental impact to the lives of people in South Africa for the project. 

All drivers on the uberASSIST view completed a disability equality course reviewed and supported by DGMT’s Inclusive and Innovative Society portfolio. This course provided the necessary knowledge and safety requirements driver-partners need when assisting people with different accessibility needs. 

These are some of the highlights from the uberASSIST training - 

According to Renisha Patel, innovation manager at DGMT, the hope is that "this partnership with Uber will expand options for riders with special access needs, facilitating greater social inclusion for South Africans.” 

How does it work? 

When requesting a ride, special needs riders can contact the uberASSIST driver-partner ahead of time to inform them of any unique requirements. 

Like all ride options Uber offers, UberASSIST riders will also be asked to rate every trip, this is an important tool to ensure drivers receive valuable feedback about their involvement in the uberASSIST programme to better their business offering.

uberASSIST riders will need to be able to navigate a smartphone in order to request a vehicle or have someone close by to help. 

How to access uberASSIST in Cape Town?

1. Riders will need to open the Uber app
2. Enter in the destination required
3. Swipe left on the app and select uberASSIST
4. Confirm pick-up location and request a ride

uberASSIST riders are welcome to bring along service animals. Uber says they recognise the need for service animals and driver-partners know that these animals serve a very important role.   

NOTE: uberASSIST vehicles do not have wheelchair accessible ramps, therefore, unfortunately, cannot accommodate motorised wheelchairs at this stage, but uberASSIST can cater for fold up wheelchairs. 

As this service is specifically aimed at riders access needs, Uber urges all Uber riders to respect others in the rider community by only using uberASSIST if applicable to them. Uber would like to ensure those who need to get an uberASSIST ride can do so. 

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