Can Wheelchair Users Access Uber and Lyft?
Whether you need a ride to work or you’re traveling in another city, on-demand rideshare services like Uber and Lyft can make transportation available at your fingertips. With a mobile app and a few taps of your fingers, a driver can pick you up and drop you off at desired locations, but for passengers with disabilities, the process can take more planning, time, and adaptation. Follow this guide to plan for an accessible rideshare experience.
How Do I Request an Accessible Uber?
First, you’ll want to download the Uber app. If you're new to the app, you'll need to create an account. You'll use this app to request any wheelchair accessible rides.
Once you sign into the app, you’ll find your rideshare service on the home screen. Select “ride”, then type in your current location, and your final destination. After you type in your final destination, a screen will automatically pop up with your rideshare options. You’ll be able to choose from options like UberX, Comfort, and Uber XL. Some, but not all, cities will have services like Uber Assist and Uber WAV.
What is Uber Assist?
Uber Assist is similar to a traditional Uber ride; however, drivers who take Uber Assist ride requests have training in helping passengers with disabilities. Uber Assist drivers can give passengers a helping hand when entering or exiting a vehicle. They can also assist with loading and unloading mobility aids like canes, crutches, folding walkers, and folding wheelchairs. Uber Assist is ideal for people who need minimal or moderate assistance. It is important to note that Uber Assist vehicles may not be wheelchair accessible. The service is available to those who need additional assistance. Still, it may not meet the needs of those who have certain medical diagnoses or require the use of a wheelchair ramp to enter and exit a vehicle. Uber Assist is not available in all cities.
What is an Uber Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV)?
Uber WAV provides accessible transportation services to those using wheelchairs. Uber WAVs have wheelchair accessible ramps or lifts and tie-down or securement systems for people who cannot or would prefer not to get out of their wheelchair during an Uber ride. These rides are ideal for people who use rigid manual wheelchairs or power wheelchairs; however, the service is not available in all cities. If you cannot find a wheelchair accessible Uber, you may need to enter a promo code within the Uber app to make the option available. You can also visit the “help” section on your app’s account page. Click on “Accessibility” and “Resources for riders with disabilities”. Then click, “How to request a WAV”. Here, you can find out if Uber WAV is available in your location. If it is not, the app will often provide you with alternative wheelchair accessible transportation services in your area. If you use one of these third-party services, be sure to let them know that you need a wheelchair vehicle beforehand, so that you can ensure your ride is accessible.
Can UberXL Fit a Wheelchair?
UberXL vehicles consist of SUVs and minivans. These vehicles will have larger space for passengers and their mobility aids. In many cases, a passenger using a manual wheelchair should be able to fit their wheelchair in an UberXL. Often, this can be done without folding or taking any parts of the wheelchair off. UberXL is more widely available than options like Uber Assist or Uber WAV, so it can be a great option for those who can transfer out of their wheelchair and into a vehicle. For those using power wheelchairs, Uber WAV, or a third-party service may better suit your needs.
Lyft for Passengers with Disabilities
Lyft works similarly to Uber for passengers looking to use a wheelchair accessible vehicle. Once you enter your destination in the Lyft app, you can request one of Lyft’s XL vehicles. Similar to Uber XL, these vehicles should have ample storage space for rigid manual wheelchairs and other mobility aids.
To request a wheelchair accessible vehicle in the Lyft app, you’ll first want to go into your app settings and toggle the “Wheelchair access” button on. If wheelchair accessible vehicles are available in your area, you’ll be able to choose this option after you input your current destination and final destination. Like Uber, Lyft wheelchair accessible vehicles are not available in every city, so you may want to look into third-party services.
Tips for Disabled People Using Uber and Lyft
Requesting an accessible rideshare is only part of the journey. You’ll want to keep a few additional tips in mind to make sure your experience is both enjoyable and accessible.
1. Adjust Your Pickup Location
Uber and Lyft will use your location to determine a pickup spot. Sometimes this location can be slightly further from where you truly are. Before you request an Uber or Lyft, double-check that your “current location” pickup is exact, so that you get picked up in the most convenient location for you.
2. Communicate With Your Driver
Once a driver accepts your ride, you can communicate with them directly through the Lyft or Uber app. Feel free to let your driver know if you’d like to be picked up in a particular area, like near a sidewalk ramp or around a street corner. If you would like, you can communicate to the driver that you are disabled. This can prepare the driver to either look for you, or assist you as needed when they arrive.
3. Schedule Your Ride in Advance
Both Uber and Lyft offer the ability to schedule rides in advance. This is especially important for passengers using Uber or Lyft wheelchair accessible vehicles. Because there are fewer accessible rideshare vehicles available in comparison to traditional Uber and Lyft, scheduling a ride in advance can help to avoid long wait times.
4. Waive the Wait Time Fee
Rideshare services often have a time that the driver must wait for a passenger before they are allowed to leave. If the passenger does not make it to the vehicle on time, typically within 2 minutes of arrival, they can be charged a fee. You can easily prepare for a driver pickup thanks to app notifications that will let you know when your driver is nearby. If you have a disability and need extra time to get to the vehicle, use these notifications to your advantage, and head outside for pickup early if you need to.
If you cannot make it to the vehicle on time due to mobility impairment and you are charged a fee, the fee can be waived within rideshare apps when necessary.
5. What to do if a Rideshare Driver Denies Your Service Due to a Disability
All rideshare drivers are required to follow ADA laws and cannot discriminate against a passenger because of a disability; however, situations may arise from time to time due to a lack of understanding or education on ADA laws. If this happens, you can file an incident report within rideshare apps, and the company should resolve the matter and issue any refunds when necessary.
Looking for Wheelchair Accessible Transportation?
Whether you use public transportation, non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT), or you're ready to drive your own wheelchair accessible vehicle, our product specialist team is here to help. Contact a product specialist today to learn more about wheelchair accessible vehicles and transportation options for people with disabilities.