Uber (a relatively new transportation provider that is designed to compete with traditional taxi companies) has been in the headlines this week for their less than professional price spike during the Sydney hostage crisis. They also facing pressure in other arenas, such as a new law in France that effectively banned their services in that country. France mandated that drivers for hire must have professional licenses and qualifications, which will put most Uber drivers out of service in France after January 1.
However, there seems to be a bit of positive press for Uber as well. As noted in this article published by assistedliving.com, Uber is now offering ride services for seniors who are unable to drive on their own, or for seniors who do not have family members or friends available to provide them with transportation when they need it. Uber calls this new specific service offering “UberASSIST”. Click on the image below to read the article.
With UberASSIST, potential customers will be able to specify if their transportation provider (Uber driver) will need to have a wheelchair-friendly vehicle. This is an important issue for seniors who might have trouble fitting into a standard vehicle due to their medical device, wheelchair, or other mobility needs. Uber also notes that drivers who are equipped to provide UberASSIST rides have received special safety training for these issues.
It remains to be seen whether or not UberASSIST will prove to be a valuable or truly useful solution for seniors who are looking to increase their independence and mobility. The cornerstone of Uber’s services (and the reason that they often cite as their advantage over traditional taxi drivers) is their smartphone based app which allows customers to call for an Uber driver and track their progress. This might prove to be a big obstacle for seniors who are seeking to use UberASSIST. Smartphones are not usually the device of choice for the average senior. How many smartphone-carrying seniors do you know? I, for one, can’t say that I know a large number that do.