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What is UberWAV and How Does It Work?

Last updated: August 14, 2021
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A person using a wheelchair

These days, Ubers come in many different shapes, sizes, and service levels.

Passengers can now experience luxury by requesting an UberBlack or save a few bucks and order an UberSelect.

This variety makes it possible for Uber to meet the ever-growing demands of passengers as their needs evolve over time.

Offering multiple types of Ubers works out well for drivers too.

Drivers can upgrade their ride to UberSUV or UberLux level and make some more money.

Due to this variety, passengers and drivers are having their needs met thanks to Uber.

Having said that, there is one very important demographic whose needs have not yet been addressed, people in wheelchairs.

Fortunately, this major oversight is now being accounted for thanks to UberWAV.

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Philadelphia
  • Toronto
  • Washington, D.C.

This article will discuss what UberWAV is, what it offers passengers, and how to use it.

After, we will explore important information drivers need to know about UberWAV.

What is UberWAV?

In an official statement from Uber, UberWAV is a new Uber service that offers “Affordable rides in wheelchair-accessible vehicles”.

Meaning that essentially UberWAV is a designated service for people who are in a wheelchair or scooter.

Remember, all Uber vehicles should accommodate disabled people using walkers, canes, folding wheelchairs or other types of assistive devices.

As in, proper assistance for Uber riders should be provided regardless of which type of Uber you request.

The main difference with UberWAV is that it is specifically designed to better serve riders in need of mobility assistance.

To further this point, UberWAV drivers are actually certified to help wheelchair-bound passengers.

Uber and Whizz-Kidz

To get a better idea of how to support passengers, Uber has teamed up with Whizz-Kidz.

Whizz-Kidz is an organization dedicated to promoting awareness of the importance of mobility for disabled children.

By teaming up with Whizz-Kidz, Uber has officially become part of the Accessible Travel Alliance.

The global collaboration works together to improve the lives of those who experience mobility issues.

As part of this alliance, Uber is now fully involved with the community.

After hearing about the survey the group conducted in 2015, the rideshare company knew they had to take action.

The survey revealed that over 75% of wheelchair users experience problems while traveling.

In addition, over 65% of people reported that they do not feel confident using public transportation.

To alleviate some of this stress, Uber has joined the ‘Get on Board’ campaign.

This organized plan was created to raise awareness about the subject and promote inclusive travel in the community.

Using UberWAV as a Passenger

If you have ever used the Uber app, using UberWAV is not much different.

The major difference is the types of vehicles and the service provided by the Uber driver.

Vehicles must be equipped to handle wheelchairs.

And drivers must be certified to assist passengers with the loading and unloading portion of the ride.

Whizz-Kidz ambassador George tested UberWAV out in this video:

As you see in the video, George reviews important aspects of UberWAV that people wouldn’t even think of.

Such as being able to face the same direction as the vehicle is moving and having plenty of space.

George also points out that since he was able to request the ride on his phone, he feels empowered to move about the city independently.

To close out his review, George declares that his ride was very accessible and offered him plenty of space.

Tribute was also paid to the ramp used, because it came up and over the lip of the vehicle which was a first for George.

He praises the fact that he was facing the same direction as other passengers.

He also describes how he felt secure and safe throughout the ride, but not restricted.

George ends the video by encouraging others to explore the world around them now that UberWAV is available.

Other passenger testimonies, such as this one from Muscular Dystrophy UK, have also commended the new service stating that the UberWAV has been very helpful.

One of the only drawbacks that we have found among the glowing reviews is reservations.

Apparently, UberWAV riders are not able to request rides in advance.

Instead, passengers must wait until they are ready to be picked up before making the UberWAV ride request.

Having said that, Uber does provide an estimated time of arrival for the UberWAV making it a bit easier to prepare for travel.

One of the most frequently asked questions passengers inquire about is other passengers.

Bringing companions along with you during your journey is perfectly acceptable.

According to Uber, as long as your companions are able to safely sit within the vehicle they are welcome aboard.

Service Animals and UberWAV

Naturally, stating the above rule brings up another important question.

Are service animals allowed?

Yes. Service animals are allowed in all Uber vehicles regardless of which type of ride you request.

Drivers cannot legally deny your certified service animal on board.

If they attempt to deny you and your service animal a ride, they will no longer be able to accept ride requests for Uber ever again.

It is important to remember the rules set in place regarding service animals.

For example, drivers are not allowed to ask for documentation proving that an animal is a service animal.

Drivers are allowed to ask the following two questions in regards to the topic.

  • Is the animal required due to a disability?
  • What tasks were they trained to perform?

Service animals are not required to wear any distinguishing attire to prove they are service animals.

Additionally, if a service animal makes a mess, riders are not required to pay for it to be cleaned.

But if this happens more than two times a charge may be issued.

We would advise any passengers with a service animal to let the driver know as soon as you have made the request.

This can give the driver a minute to prepare their vehicle if needed.

Driving for UberWAV

Now that we have covered how passengers can use UberWAV, let’s discuss the topic from the driver’s point of view.

As a driver, know that UberX requires the use of a 4-door vehicle.

Regular Uber drivers are also do not need any sort of special certification.

This is not the case for UberWAV.

UberWAV drivers must have a Passenger Service and Safety or similar certification.

Drivers also need a vehicle that is capable of loading, unloading, and securing passengers safely.

While accepting UberWAV ride requests, drivers may also accept UberX and UberXL when they become available.

Bear in mind, UberWAV riders require assistance to safely travel to their intended destination.

This means the loading and unloading times will be longer than a typical Uber ride. But the benefits are worth it.

UberWAV Driver Certification

As we mentioned above, UberWAV drivers must possess a certification.

One accepted certification is the Passenger Service and Safety Certification, or PASS for short.

Throughout training (which is $50), drivers will learn the ins and outs of how to properly assist riders.

This includes, but is not limited to the following categories.

  • Service Animals
  • Wheelchairs
  • Emergency and Evacuation Protocols
  • Disability Awareness

UberWAV requires this certification because it helps prepare drivers.

It also helps limit driver and company liabilities in case of a lawsuit.

UberWAV Vehicle Requirements

We have not seen a detailed list outlining what types of vehicles are allowed.

But we do know that vehicles need to be fully wheelchair accessible.

If you are not sure if your car is wheelchair accessible, it probably isn’t.

Wheelchair accessible vehicles are equipped with special wheelchair ramps or elevators to help passengers load and unload.

According to Uber, UberWAV drivers can use their own vehicle “but most UberWAV driver-partners acquire a WAV through partnerships with third-party companies.

Based on driver stories, this basically means Uber requires drivers to go through their leasing program.

Needless to say, this is problematic, especially considering the 5-year agreement on the lease.

Assisting UberWAV Passengers

To get a better idea of what to anticipate, Uber has provided a helpful guide to assisting WAV passengers.

This article covers important tips on how to assist but not be overbearing.

As a general rule, drivers should always ask before touching the rider’s wheelchair or scooter.

Additional, drivers should never assume a rider is unable to accomplish a task on their own.

UberWAV Perks for Drivers

In addition to making the community a better place, UberWAV offers drivers additional incentives.

On a popular forum for drivers, one Uber driver shared the benefits that were offered to him:

  • $150 per week for every week you complete 50 trips
  • $20 per UberWAV trip completed in addition to the trip fare
  • Lower service fee on all trips:
    • Pay only a 15% (keep 85% of the fare) on UberX trips
    • 0% service fee (keep 100% of the fare) on UberWAV trips
  • One-time promotions: $100 for your first trip after WAV

Keep in mind, these perks were provided by someone who was asked to lease a vehicle from Uber.

Having said that, the perks sound pretty sweet if you already own a WAV approved vehicle.

It is worth noting, however, that we have not heard or read any stories from those types of drivers.

If you, are anyone you know, currently drives for UberWAV, please let us know in the comments.

We are itching to learn more about this service.

What Drivers are Saying

Many driver reports we have come across are excited about the opportunity to help out the wheelchair community.

Unfortunately, the loudest cry we have heard from drivers is the need to lease a WAV vehicle through Uber.

We disagree with this practice and hope to see it changed soon.

The freedom associated with mobility is often taken for granted and it is nice to see that Uber is working on raising awareness of the subject.

Drivers who are interested in providing assistance should consider reaching out to Uber about UberWAV.

Keep in mind that it does require a special certification and a wheelchair accessible vehicle.

Unfortunately, our research shows that more often than not, this vehicle must be leased through Uber.

This huge caveat means UberWAV might not make financial sense for some drivers.

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