Holy cow, this might just be the best thing Uber has ever done. I remember fantasizing about this a few years back, but I didn't expect to ever see it happen. https://twitter.com/Techmeme/status/1273253118021480448
OK, so ideally it would be donating rather than selling, and to the smaller paratransit organizations that need Uber's software the most... but this is a step in the right direction. Maximizing the utilization of scarce shared mobility resources can be a huge public good.
When I was a caregiver for five disabled people, I had to break administrative rules to take a wheelchair-bound client anywhere because we couldn't afford a van with a lift. Booking paratransit was a massive pain, and dramatically limited where we could go and when.
Vans with wheelchair lifts are EXPENSIVE and group homes and the agencies that run them have extremely limited resources. The ability to use Uber's software to maximize the utilization of those resources would be a game-changer. Like, it's hard to overstate the impact of it.
Here's what folks who aren't exposed to these problems don't get: this would not only enable more mobility for disabled people, it would enable personal autonomy for people who may never have had it. Most people don't think about that distinction, but it's massive.
Mobility means the ability to get from place to place. Right now, paratransit can provide that if you're willing to organize everything around the constraints it imposes. Personal autonomy means mobility paired with the freedom and flexibility that mobility should provide.
My fondest hope for AVs is that they provide personal autonomy to those who've never had it, not just mobility. In the meantime, the flexibility and resource maximization that Uber's software offers is the next best step in this direction. I'm so glad to see @Uber moving on this.
Again, I wish Uber wasn't treating this like a business. I'd happily switch back to Uber and pay more per ride to support this. But keep in mind: if this makes a 4 van fleet 25-50% more efficient, it's well worth the cost. https://twitter.com/SafeSelfDrive/status/1273261179805159427
For context, even a used wheelchair lift-equipped minivan that is effectively a single-occupant vehicle starts above $50k and a multi-occupant lift-equipped vehicle easily cost far more than the $80k Uber is charging Marin Connect (not counting running costs and labor).
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