Chicago City Hall recently approved a plan for ride-hailing companies that requires them to have at least 50 vehicles accessible by wheelchairs. The companies Uber, Lyft, and Via will add those vehicles over the next six months. However, the critics argue that the number is insufficient.
City Council Decision
Last summer, the City Council decided that the ride-hailing drivers will be licensed. At least 5% of all ride-hailing vehicles must also be accessible for the people with disabilities. The companies thus decided that they will add about 50 wheelchair-accessible vehicles in the next six months. According to the data of City Hall, it is the same rate as the traditional cab companies add to their fleet.
The aim of the decision is to give people with disabilities the same experience as to able-bodied riders. Individuals with disabilities represent a considerable share of the market, and the hail-riding companies want to expand their territories.
It's Not Enough
The plan sounds great on the paper, but there are also numerous voices of criticism. According to Gary Arnold, a spokesman for Access Living, 50 wheelchair-accessible vehicles is inadequate. He thinks that people with disabilities will thus be waiting for their ride long after they've hailed it.
That's also a reason why many people with disabilities didn't even bother with the installation of Uber or Lyft apps on their phones. The companies just don't have enough vehicles available to serve all the potential clients with disabilities at a time and adding 50 probably won't change the situation.
The Top Secret Information
However, the companies like Uber don't provide any information about the number of their vehicles on the streets. This fact makes it impossible to check if there are enough vehicles to meet demand by City Council. According to Charles Petrof, an attorney at Access Living, there is probably more than 400 vehicles for people with disabilities in the standard taxicab fleet. The number of 50 required for the ride-hailing companies is thus ridiculously low, considering they represent a bigger share of the market.
The leading persons of Uber, however, argue that the plan approved by the city will lead to the increase of 20% of the vehicles for people with disabilities. All that in the first three months. Uber also contributed high sums to the fund used to purchase and maintain the wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
Times Are Changing
Although there are certain criticisms of the plan introduced by the Council, the situation is changing. The Uber management is dealing with the issue and aims to develop and implement new solutions to the mobility challenge and provide the comfort of an instant ride to everyone, with and without, disabilities.
During the last six years, the number of wheelchair-accessible vehicles increased three times from 91 to 298 with the support of the ride-hailing industries and taxi companies. Chicago is thus leading the way to create an accessible model of transportation. Moving forward, they hope that people with disabilities are able to use standard taxi services and rideshare companies without any problems to get their destination in time.
Image credit: Thedailybeast.com