Portsmouth’s disabled residents ‘unfairly’ forgotten by Uber

Uber stock image
Uber stock image
A new Lidl will be built on Hayling Island

New Hayling Island Lidl is given green light by planners

  • Disabled sailing hero hits out at international private hire firm
  • It comes after Uber urged the city council to strike a deal with it to help cut congestion in Portsmouth
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DISABLED sailing hero Geoff Holt has hit out at transport giant Uber for not having any wheelchair-accessible cars in its fleet of Portsmouth taxis.

The Portsmouth entrepreneur, who has transformed the lives of thousands of disabled people by giving them a taste of life on the water, said the firm was ‘unfairly’ forgetting about disabled people in the city.

Campaigner and sailor Geoff Holt

Campaigner and sailor Geoff Holt

His comments come just days after the Silicon Valley-based company revealed ambitious plans to expand its service in the area.

The private hire firm – which lets customers order a taxi from their smartphone – said it could play a role in reducing the island’s congestion woes in a new deal with the council.

But wheelchair user Mr Holt, who runs Wet Wheels Foundation in Gunwharf Quays, said Uber should not be given any such contract by the until it addresses its lack of disabled-friendly vehicles.

He said: ‘It’s desperately unfair. I want to download the Uber app and have the benefits that everyone else has in the city, with cheaper taxi fares.

Uber's Fred Jones

Uber's Fred Jones

‘But Uber has no wheelchair-accessible taxis in the city.

‘It’s leaving disabled people with less choice when they’re in need.’

His concerns were shared by Councillor Frank Jonas, who sits on the council’s traffic, environment and community safety scrutiny panel which is looking at ways to tackle congestion.

Cllr Jonas said he had ‘no axe to grind’ with Uber but said it was a problem the company needed to fix.

‘When you think of our established firms like City Wide and Aqua they have got have got the facilities to pick up wheelchairs or people with disabilities,’ he said.

Fred Jones, Uber’s general manager said, the firm had wheelchair accessible cars in London, which were used by thousands of people. It’s a service he was keen to roll out in Portsmouth.

He added: ‘Uber’s mission is to provide transportation as reliable as running water for everyone, everywhere.’