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New app Handycab increases options for reduced mobility passengers
Officially launched on the final day of Belgium’s Mobility Week (16-22 September), Handycab is a phone application aiming to identify all taxis in the Brussels-Capital region suitable for reduced mobility passengers and to make it easier to reserve them.
The application, that has been welcomed by Brussels minister-president Rudi Vervoort and Brussels minister for mobility Elke Van den Brandt, was developed by the Brussels taxi sector in collaboration with people with reduced mobility and representatives of associations calling for increased mobility.
“I am very pleased with this new initiative that has been set up for our citizens. Using the application saves time, because customers no longer have to contact different taxi services,” Vervoort said.
“Being able to move around in the city is a basic right for everyone,” den Brandt added. “Thanks to Handycab, there will now be an extra, sustainable alternative for people with reduced mobility.”
For now, Handycab records around 30 suitable taxis. In a year, it hopes to be able to list the 100 vehicles currently circulating in Brussels. “The principle is to bring together most and ultimately all adapted taxis that operate in the Brussels-Capital Region in the same platform,” the app’s developers said in a press release.
Drivers of taxis adapted to accommodate people with disabilities (personnes à mobilité réduite – PMR) can sign up to the application at a very reasonable price (a few euros a month). They must also take a training course in accessibility issues and adhere to a quality charter. The drivers do not need to sign any exclusivity contract however and can join other taxi centres if they wish.
“There is demand for about 120-140 journeys a day from people with reduced mobility,” said Shara Claeskens, spokesperson for the Handycab initiative.
“Many of these people still get normal taxis. When they call a taxi centre, they are offered one adapted to their needs, but sometimes this would mean a two-hour wait, as the company only has two or three available to them.”
So a key aim of Handycab is to give users more time, Claeskens said: “We cut waiting time, we have drivers trained to help reduced mobility passengers, the vehicles are suitably adapted and the application allows the user to see in real time when the taxi will arrive so they can best anticipate their departure.”
All methods of payment are possible, in the cab or on the app. A summary of the trip is mailed to the Handycab user and there is a 24/7 help desk.
The app is available for Apple and Android and links to the download can be seen on the Handycab website.