Aussie car-sharing service GoGet has today launched its first wheelchair accessible vehicle — an eight-seater Kia Carnival with a hydraulic wheelchair rear entry — making it the first mainstream carshare provider in the world to offer an accessible vehicle.
GoGet is a carshare service that allows registered users to book and pick up share cars from varying locations across Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. The first wheelchair-accessible vehicle is going to live at the Royal North Shore Hospital, where it's expected to be well-received by patients with disabilities and their families.
"Access to transport can be a challenge for some disabled people seeking healthcare and having a GoGet carshare service on site will improve their access to the hospital," says Vicki Taylor, Chief Executive of the Northern Sydney Local Health District. "We are really proud that Royal North Shore Hospital is to be the first to adopt this important service which will increase transport options for disabled people."
The conversion done on the Kia Carnival includes a hydraulic floor for wheelchair entry, and is able to accommodate a wide range of wheelchairs. These types of conversions aren't cheap, and running the vehicle tends to continue to be expensive, though people with disabilities are rarely given many choices in the way of transport. Customers with disabilities who book wheelchair accessible taxis are often let down, and Uber's wheelchair accessible vehicles are still only trialling in Australia.
"Difficulty in accessing appropriate transportation can be a real barrier to independence and can be very isolating," says Peter Perry, CEO of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia. "This vehicle will help to open up people’s worlds and allow them to do things others take for granted – such as a day trip with their family. We hope that this will be the first of many so that even more people can benefit moving forward."
The first vehicle at Royal North Shore will act as a pilot for GoGet, after which there are plans to roll out more accessible vehicles on a larger scale if the initial trial is successful. Initially the service will be mobilised in Sydney and NSW, to be followed by a national rollout.
“This innovative approach will help people with disability get to where they want to go, and most importantly allow them live life their way," said John Ajaka, the NSW Minister for Disability Services.