Booking free rides for disabled
THOSE with permanent disabilities can soon enjoy free car rides, after a car-booking app tied up with a government agency to help defray transport costs for those with limited mobility.
Uber Technologies' mid-class hire service arm, UberX, will offer 1,000 free rides to SG Enable, set up by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to help disabled people.
The deal, being announced today, is worth $20,000 and was welcomed by the disabled community, even as the Government puts in more funds to make the commute easier and cheaper for the disabled.
SG Enable's CEO, Ms Ku Geok Boon, said it is "happy with Uber's support in improving the travel options for persons with disabilities".
Ms Ku said SG Enable constantly seeks "innovative solutions" to help persons with disabilities and their caregivers.
Mr Nicholas Aw, president of the Disabled People's Association, said the deal is a "good start", and will help reduce transport costs for the disabled.
In time, he hopes Uber can also consider equipping its fleet with larger vehicles with hydraulic ramps, which can accommodate motorised wheelchairs.
Last month, the Government announced it was devoting $24 million a year to help defray transportation costs for disabled people, who either take public transport, taxis, or special transport services.
Parliamentary Secretary for MSF Low Yen Ling said in Parliament that for people with disabilities, "access to affordable transport increases their chances of being plugged into society".
Mr Patrick Ang, 40, who has cerebral palsy, hopes the application process to obtain these free rides from SG Enable will not be too "tedious". He also asked if drivers will be given training to assist people with disabilities.
Uber, which is an app that matches private car drivers and passengers, launched its limousine service here in February last year, with the cheaper UberX service launched last month.
UberX driver Siti Nurani, 31, who uses a rental Toyota Altis, has plans to upgrade to a larger-capacity model to offer her paying passengers better service.
But should she encounter disabled customers one day, Ms Siti knows she will be ready, as she will have more space for them and their caregivers, along with their wheelchairs and bags.
"With the extra space... I can go the extra mile," she added.