Abu Dhabi: A new method of public transportation will now be available for those with physical disabilities after a fleet of specially-designed taxi cars was launched in Abu Dhabi by the Centre for Regulations of Transport by Hire Cars (TransAD) on Tuesday.
Six luxury cars will be stationed predominantly near hospitals and special needs centres while two others will be accessible from the Abu Dhabi Airport. However, residents will also be able to pre-book taxis upon request via the TransAD hotline.
“Every vehicle is fitted with a tracking system which allows us to determine which of the points of assembly is closest to the point from where the request for a taxi has been made. We have also trained 24 drivers, four of whom are females, to assist with the process of boarding and getting off the vehicle,” said Jameela Al Hameli, assistant general manager for corporate service, at TransAD.
These new additions to TransAD’s pre-existing collection of over 7000 cars can hold a total of six people including a wheelchair user, three passengers and the driver. The vehicles use automatically operated platforms which act as a fork lift for wheelchairs, in addition to containing seat belts and wheel fasteners designed to ensure that passengers are secure in their positions.
Speaking to Gulf News, Abdullah Al Sa’ad, a Department of Transport (DoT) employee and member of the special needs community said: “This move is especially useful for individuals using electrically operated wheelchairs. This is because, unlike manual wheelchairs, these are not foldable and are therefore inefficient to use in cars that do not contain a designated area for this purpose.”
Al Sa’ad also highlighted the fact that having trained staff members may act as a substitute for chaperones which makes the process of travelling more efficient for those wanting to do so on their own.
Residents are advised to make their requests 30 minutes prior to their preferred time of departure to allow TransAD to make the necessary arrangements. “This is important for callers who would rather have a female driver on board,” Al Hameli added.
Regular tariffs will apply as usual, although special needs passengers can benefit from their Ministry of Social Affairs 50 per cent discount cards when paying the wheelchair accessible taxi fares.