Rosemary Keogh, CEO, Irish Wheelchair Association, IWA member Rachel Creevey, Keith Doyle Free Now wheelchair accessible vehicle driver and Niall Carson, Country Manager, Free Now. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography

Free Now aims to improve transport accessibility

Transport is a huge issue for people with physical disabilities and now one ride hailing app has partnered with a charity to do its best to improve things.

Free Now has entered into a new long-term partnership with Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA), Ireland’s leading representative organisation for people with physical disabilities, to help improve transport accessibility in Ireland.

This partnership with the IWA forms part of Free Now’s Make a Move initiative which seeks to create a more sustainable and inclusive society.

As part of the partnership, the company has committed to a range of initiatives to help make their service more accessible for people with physical disabilities, these include -

Training and education: Free Now drivers in Cork will be provided with IWA disability awareness training to improve passenger experience. In-app improvements: Working with IWA, Free Now will make in-app improvements to make it easier for wheelchair users to access taxi services. National Mobility Conference: The first ever Free Now & IWA National Mobility Conference will take place in the autumn. The virtual event will bring the transport industry and mobility sector together to focus on mobility accessibility in Ireland. As part of its partnership, Free Now plans to work closely with the IWA voluntary organisation to raise awareness of the transport and mobility issues facing wheelchair users, and will also help raise funds for the organisation. To kick-start this fundraising effort, Free Now has contributed €40,000 to Irish Wheelchair Association.

Free Now currently provides commission-free jobs on all wheelchair accessible trips for its drivers to encourage drivers to provide wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) services and to improve in-app service levels by increasing WAV drivers available.

Niall Carson, General Manager, Free Now Ireland, said: “Our vision is to create a society where we all enjoy equal opportunities to travel, work and socialise. Equal access to transport for all is incredibly important in enabling this vision under our Make a Move initiative and our partnership with IWA is us stepping up to play a role to help make this happen in Ireland.”

Rosemary Keogh, CEO of Irish Wheelchair Association, said: “Everyone here at Irish Wheelchair Association is delighted to have Free Now on board as a long-term partner. Transport is key to people with physical disabilities realising their independence.

“Free Now have really taken the time to understand the transport and mobility challenges faced by our members. We look forward to working together on some innovative solutions that will help shape an environment where all can access safe and convenient public transportation options.”