Hiring rides for wheelchair users could soon be more appealing, with vehicles that do not require them to dismount throughout the journey.
Grab is trialling a new service, GrabAssist Plus, in which about 10 wheelchair-accessible vehicles will be made available for hire from next Monday. All will have drivers trained to help the users.
The fare will be a flat $32 for distances up to 7km. It will cost 40 cents more for an additional kilometre and $2.30 for every subsequent kilometre.
The new service is an improvement on the current GrabAssist ride, which allows a rider to store his folded wheelchair or personal mobility aid (PMA) on the vehicle, which means he has to dismount from it before entering the vehicle.
The current service has met with substantial demand, with more than 50,000 completed trips since it was launched in 2018, Grab said.
Mr Yee Wee Tang, managing director of Grab Singapore, said GrabAssist Plus should allow wheelchair users to travel more independently. Currently, the driver can sometimes find it difficult to help the disabled to dismount or mount their mobility devices.
"We have seen positive traction for our GrabAssist service but understand that there are still challenges that passengers on PMAs or wheelchairs face," said Mr Yee.
"We hope to address some of these challenges to offer better and more accessible on-demand options for them."
The trial is a tie-up between Grab, SMRT Taxis, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and the Singapore General Hospital as part of the effort to promote inclusivity. The service, in its initial stages, will allow passengers to travel to and from their homes or eldercare centres.
The destinations must be selected healthcare institutions, including Tan Tock Seng Hospital's Foot Care & Limb Design Centre and its Centre for Geriatric Medicine, and the Singapore General Hospital's Diabetes & Metabolism Centre.
In a separate statement yesterday, Grab said it has secured a five-year term loan with a principal amount of US$2 billion (S$2.66 billion), the largest in the Asian technology sector. The sum jumped from an original US$750 million after strong interest from investors.