BOSTON — A new business model by ride-hailing company Uber means quicker pickup times for passengers in wheelchairs in several U.S. cities.

Uber’s Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi announced this month that customers in the Greater Boston area can now access wheelchair-accessible vehicles through Uber with an average pickup wait time of 15 minutes or less.

The announcement comes months after Uber partnered with MV Transportation, a Texas-based company and one of the largest privately-owned passenger transportation firms in the country. The partnership gave Uber access to MV’s fleets of drivers and wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Uber has historically relied on its driver workforce to supply their own cars, which have meant there are few cars that can accommodate wheelchairs.

“There simply aren’t enough people who personally own WAVs who also choose to drive with Uber,” Khosrowshahi said in a statement. He added that in many cities, paratransit options require booking far in advance and long wait times as passengers are picked up and dropped off in various locations.

Uber hopes to change that model by allowing those in wheelchairs to get around as quickly as all passengers. The company says it is investing millions in these services because accessible transportation is a priority.

“We’ll likely invest tens of millions of dollars into this partnership in the first year,” said Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang.

The improved service by Uber is available in Greater Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Chicago and Toronto.

The company hopes to implement improved wheelchair access in San Francisco and Los Angeles this year. The eight cities combined make up for half of all Uber trips in North America, according to Khosrowshahi.

© 2018
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC