A recent report by the advocacy group New York Lawyers for the Public Interest points out that Uber and Lyft often fall terribly short for people in wheelchairs and those who have mobility issues.
In the NYLPI study, participants attempted to hail rides using UberWAV and Lyft Access Mode (the wheelchair-accessible versions of their apps) from various points in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx and attempted to get mobility assistance rides to four different destinations including LaGuardia and JFK airports.
Uber and Lyft's wheelchair van services fail to deliver
Seventy percent of the time, there were no vehicles available to transport the patients.
When they could get a ride, the wait times for a wheelchair-accessible vehicle was almost 20 minutes --- compared to four minutes for standard vehicles.
While the report focuses on New York City alone, the study’s authors say it stands to reason that the problem is as bad, if not worse, in the rest of the country.
As far as a solution, the authors of the report stressed the importance of financially incentivizing drivers to equip their vehicles to handle wheelchairs and electric scooters. They say that the drivers should be compensated for the alterations made to their vehicles and that they should also receive higher rates for their trips.
“These apps have billions of dollars in revenue, and they incentivize drivers to do stuff all the time,” NYLPI’s Justin Wood told the Washington Post.
In the not-so-distant future, ridesharing apps could fundamentally reshape the medical transport world. While that still could be the case --- especially with their easy-to-use trip scheduling software, this report underlines the difficulties ahead.
True medical transport providers are far better equipped to handle populations with mobility issues. While Uber and Lyft claim they are making strides towards serving this community, so far they are falling seriously short.
“I think people should really understand what they’re getting when they put their fragile loved one in an Uber or a Lyft,” said John Bush, owner of On Time Transport and On Time Ambulance, one of the largest providers of medical transportation services in New Jersey.
“These ridesharing apps claim to be moving into medical transport, but their services are in some cases really inadequate. Safety should always be the top priority, and so we think they have a long way to go still."