Earlier this year, UberWAV was launched in London – ‘giving wheelchair users more choice to travel safely and affordably around their city’ – to loud cheers of support from those of us for whom the supposedly-accessible London black cab service has been less than stellar.
My own black cab experiences have not been great – a litany of unavailable, late or no-show cabs; grumpy, unwilling drivers; inept support in providing ramps and guidance; inability to flag down on streets, yawn, yawn – to the degree that I now, reluctantly, avoid them at all costs.
It’s not like I haven’t tried. D would love not to drive everywhere. Trips to hospitals, restaurants, nights out. We’ve tried at many times, on many days, in a myriad of ways – booking, flagging, central call office, account holding. We’ve had some success but many more failures involving missed meals, performances and appointments.
It seems to me that the only times black cabs willingly pick up a wheelchair are at the non-busy times between 10am-5pm. At peak times – when you really want one – they’re just not interested. Try getting one on a Saturday night or bank holiday – nightmare. In fact, any late night seems problematic.
My last attempt to use one was in January when our car broke down at 11.30pm on a Thursday night near North Acton tube. We had to abandon the car – safely pulled over in a legit parking space – so we called the Ealing taxi rank and got the usual:
“Dunno about that. It’ll be at least two hours, if we can get one at all at this hour.”
Me and D just looked at each other. Honestly. 11.30pm. Thursday night. Too late for a wheelchair user to be out and expecting a black cab ride.
We’d have been angry if we hadn’t expected it.
But we did expect it. And, as ever with access/real world crossover, we were not disappointed. Well, we were. Our expectations were not.
Luckily, we were just a couple of miles from home, it wasn’t raining or even that cold for January, so I got out and rolled it. Took about an hour all-in. Not a great night but not my worst either.
Anyway, that’s a long-winded way of saying, an overdue: hello, uberWAV.
UberWAV are promising 25-40 minutes wait time for immediate calls along with other wheelchair friendly services and I’m figuring it’s maybe time to try them as it’s always good to have options even just as back up to your car.
This holiday period might be good for a test-run – D rather misses being able to drink when we eat out (no, he’s not a huge drinker but one glass every time seems restrained).
I’m also keeping my eyes peeled for those of you who’ve tried uberWAV so do tweet if you’ve commented anywhere as I’m keen to hear how the service is doing. I do have a big power wheelchair so would love to know if anyone has uberWAV’d in one and has a view.
I do hope uberWAV are successful and that there are enough of us to sustain the service for them. If so, it’s win-win all round.