Car-hire app Uber launches option to cater to people with disabilities

SPH Brightcove Video
Third-party taxi apps have caused much debate lately. Singapore has not yet adopted a protectionist stance against taxi apps though.

The Straits Times' senior transport correspondent Christopher Tan tells digital news editor Ernest Luis what lies at the crux of this debate - having more consumer choices, levelling of the playing field, and the possibility of regulation.
Para-athlete Theresa Goh being assisted by Uber driver Alson Tay with her wheelchair at the launch of UberAssist. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Car-hire app Uber on Thursday (Oct 29) launched a new uberAssist option, to provide extra help for people with disabilities as well as the elderly.

With uberAssist, when a car is needed, alerts are sent to a pool of about 50 drivers who had been trained by consultancy firm LevelField on how to help people of various disabilities into vehicles.

These cars can accommodate foldable wheelchairs and walking aids. Uber hopes to add fully wheelchair-accessible vehicles to the service early next year.

The uberAssist option is offered at the same price as uberX, which is the most affordable among the app's service options and is up to 20 per cent cheaper than taxis during peak hours.

To use the option, Uber users can enter the promo code "ASSISTSG", set their location and request a ride.

Ms Judy Wee, principal consultant at LevelField and vice-president of the Disabled People's Association, said: "It's great to see Uber's focus on drivers knowing what and how to say, and do the right thing to welcome riders with disabilities."

Swimmer Theresa Goh, who will represent Singapore at the Asean Para Games in December, said: "I think it's important to have many public transport options for the varying types of abilities and mobilities of people.

"I'm glad that Uber has come into the mix in providing an affordable and accessible option for people with disabilities."

Said Mr Chan Park, Uber's general manager for South-east Asia: "At Uber, we strive to provide reliable and convenient transport options to meet everyone's needs - serving every part of every community, in every city.

"With Singapore all set to host the 8th Asean Para Games in just over a month, our hope is that uberASSIST will also serve as a reliable mobility option to many of the 3,000 brave young athletes during their time here."

There are more than 110,000 Singaporeans with a disability, according to the National Council of Social Service.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.