Updated: Apr 29
On the 25th of March 2021 the Wheelchair Book & Ride App went live in Sydney. The NSW Taxi Council Deputy CEO Nick Abrahim, received an email from Spinal Cords Injuries Australia (SCIA) confirming that ‘’We have just made our first successful dispatch!’’ and we all went “Yaaaaaay!” at our office. We are sure the mood at the SCIA office was the same.
Finally, after months of co-ordination, meetings, discussions and consultations followed by targeted actions amongst the SCIA, the Point to Point Transport Commissioner, Transport for NSW, the NSW Taxi Council and Taxi Service Providers across Sydney, Taxi Driver – Mohammad Jouni, driving Taxi T3408 for St George Cabs – a member Network of the NSW Taxi Council, was the first successful Wheelchair Accessible Taxi dispatched via the new Centralised Booking Service for WATS in Sydney - “Wheelchair Book & Ride App”.
What is the "Wheelchair Book & Ride App” all about? Wheelchair Book & Ride is the new Centralised Booking Service (CBS) for Wheelchair Accessible Taxis (WATS) in Sydney. The driver app connects Drivers with Customers who need wheelchair accessible Taxis in Sydney. All Taxi Service Providers (TSPs) that operate wheelchair accessible Taxis in Sydney are required to join the service.
Taxi Driver Mohammad Jouni, the Taxi Driver who received the first booking, said, ‘’It is very simple and works well. It feels very new as of now and with time, I think we will get used to it and also everyone needing WATS will start using it. We need to ensure that WATS drivers, Taxi Service Providers and the CBS Provider work together, stay connected, keep utilising as well as improving the app as per passenger and industry feedback”.
Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) is approved by the NSW Point to Point Transport Commissioner to operate the service for the Wheelchair Book & Ride App.
Dianne Lucas, CEO, SCIA on the successful launch and first dispatch through of the app said, “SCIA decided to tender for this service as Wheelchair Accessible Taxis provide an invaluable service for assisting people to be independent, travel to and from work, medical appointments and generally living life. The app we have created will allow us to ensure the drivers have direct access to jobs and the people that use the service are able to have their booking requests filled more quickly. The app has been designed to be easy for the drivers to accept jobs and to have all the required information for a successful pick up. It also ensures a fair and equitable distribution of jobs to drivers. We can also see where the driver is so we can monitor the acceptance and cancellation rates and can work with the NSW Taxi Industry Representatives to enhance the service for all parties.”
Dianne further added that, “We would like to take this opportunity to thank the NSW Taxi Industry Representatives for their openness and understanding while we build the new service. The discussions and consultations we have had have been extremely positive and we are excited to continue to work alongside the NSW Taxi industry.”
Transport for NSW along with the Point-to-Point Transport Commissioner have played an instrumental role in launching the new CBS in Sydney.
Stu Donehue - Acting Director Strategic Initiatives at Transport for NSW said the launch of the driver app is a great result and a major step forward in the delivery of this important service. “We’ve really appreciated the collaboration between the service operator SCIA, the Point to Point Transport Commission, the NSW Taxi Council and my team at Transport to get this app to market. This is just the first step. We now look forward to delivering further enhancements to provide an even better and more seamless service to both WAT drivers and our customers.”
The launch of the Wheelchair Book & Ride app also coincides with 40 years of Wheelchair Accessible Taxi Services in NSW since the first service commenced back in 1981. NSW Taxi Council Project Lead, Deputy CEO, Nick Abrahim said, “The Wheelchair Book & Ride app is an important platform for Wheelchair Accessible Passengers to book their Taxis. The app provides ease, convenience, and flexibility for the passenger to ensure a seamless and efficient process for booking a Wheelchair Accessible Taxi in Sydney”.
Taxi Drivers in Sydney will also benefit from the Wheelchair Book & Ride Service as jobs are despatched in a fair and equitable manner using technology and innovation. Any Taxi Drivers who are interested in joining the Wheelchair Book and Ride service must be connected with an Authorised Taxi Service Provider registered with the CBS.
To learn more about the new WATS CBS – Wheelchair Book & Ride, click here.