Last week I tried out the new UberWAVs! I was quite excited to use Uber, but I was also skeptical of Uber’s idea of a wheelchair accessible vehicle
I quickly got my phone out and downloaded the Uber app. As it was downloading, i thought to myself that at last, disabled people finally have access to one of the most popular private taxi firms in the UK; a long overdue move.
Once the app has loaded and after you register yourself with Uber, all you have to do is navigate to the promotions section of the app and type in the code ASSISTUK to activate the UberWAV option which will come up with all the other Uber taxi options that you can choose from.
After you have done this, all you have to do is complete the simple process of selecting your pick up point and if you desire, select the drop off point.
The great thing about the app is that it will give you an ETA of how long you have to wait before you get picked up, and this is before you confirm your booking. You can also see the estimated fare you will have to pay which gives me the option to compare prices with other taxi apps, like Gett, who provides a fixed fare option. To my surprise, Uber was much cheaper than getting a taxi, which really put a smile on my face!
The issue that some people may not be happy with is the fact that you cannot make any bookings in advance. The only way to book a taxi is to only do so when you are ready to be picked up.
After you confirm the booking, you can look at a lot of information to make you feel safe while travelling with Uber. You can see the licence plate number, car model and even a picture of the driver.
I was travelling from the Muscular Dystrophy UK office, which is based in the heart of London near Southwark station, to my home address in Brixton.
After I inputted the pick up and drop off point and confirmed the booking, i was given a 12 minute waiting time, which was not bad considering there were only 55 WAVs operational by Uber.
While you wait to be picked up, you can check on the app where the taxi is in real time, so you always have confirmation that someone is coming to take you home!
11 minutes later I get a notification on my phone that my taxi has arrived!
I went outside and waiting for me was a brand new 2016 wheelchair accessible vehicle. I was kindly greeted by the driver, who really put me at ease and made me feel like I would be safe in his hands.
The driver went to the back of the vehicle and opened the door. He then put the ramp down and started to fold the 3 passenger chairs so that I could get in.
I easily got up the ramp and I soon realised that it would be a very tight squeeze to get in. I had to electronically put my footrest all the way down and then drive forward more so that the driver had enough space to clamp me down.
After this was done he had to fold the ramp in order to close the door.
As soon as he tried to push the ramp up, I knew there would be a problem. The ramp was right up against my backrest and it gave me no space to move my backrest back and tilt my chair. The driver actually had to push the ramp 4/5 times in order for it to lock in place.
After this, I was ready for my journey!
The first few corners the driver made was a bit too sharp for me, so when I asked the driver to slow down on the corners, he was more than happy to do so.
25 minutes later I arrived home safe and sound and the driver wished me well and we went our separate ways!
All in all, I was very happy and surprised on how easy it was to book a taxi and get to your destination.
For me, going in a black cab is not always easy as my chair moves a lot and it’s not very safe, but with uberWAV I was able to get clamped in and be safely transported to wherever I want to go.
The downside is that if you have a big wheelchair like me, you will have a tight squeeze getting in and your Carer has to sit and the front passenger seat as that is the only seat available, so if you need help during the journey, you’re going to have a problem.
In the future, I would like uber to have bigger vehicles available to transport wheelchair users and to make more seats available instead of having 1 passenger being allowed to go with you.
Overall, Uber has made a good start with the service and I hope they will be able to expand their fleet of WAVs and continue to improve their service to disabled people.