Thursday, July 3, 2014

KickStart - Accessible Taxis available in Bangalore now at regular rate

Dear Colleagues,

This news in Times of India regarding an initiative KickStart by our colleague and friend Ms. Vidhya Ramasubban is a welcome step for promoting inclusive tourism as well as inclusive mobility in the South Indian city of Bangalore!

Great initiative after your Ladakh project Ms. Ramasubban!

These cabs put the differently abled on the fast track

Sruthy Susan Ullas, TNN | Jun 30, 2014, 01.50AM IST

BANGALORE: Deepa Maski, 28, wheels herself with ease into her office in Electronics City, a stone's throw from her home. Her powered wheelchair is good enough to take her to her workplace every day. But a movie at iMax, Koramangala, becomes impossible without someone's help.

Mobility being a major concern, the project lead with HCL tried stopping several BMTC Volvos and telling the drivers about the ramps available in those vehicles. Surprisingly, many didn't know such a facility existed, and even if they did, they were clueless about how to operate them. Her movie-watching was, therefore, restricted to videos and downloads. But once she found Kickstart cabs, things started looking better.

Today, the disabled-friendly cab service ensures Deepa doesn't find herself stranded. A regular at family functions and social gatherings, she now looks forward to watching movies on the large screen.

KickStart, an initiative by Vidhya Ramasubban, offers cabs that are modified to be wheelchair friendly. Like any other cab service, it offers point-to-point drops, airport drops, outstation and local hire. The cost is almost in the same range.

KickStart has three cars to choose from — The front seat of the Swift Dzire is like an office swivel chair, which can move in and out of the car, allowing the customer to use it like a normal office chair. Then there's the Wagon R with a ramp, which aids the user to get their wheelchair in. The front seat of the modified Toyota Liva is remote controlled, and can jut out of the car to pick the customer from any place.

"Most of the differently abled people and senior citizens are home-bound as they don't have transport to move about. This cab service is changing their lives," explains Vidhya, who has a masters degree in social work, and has been working for the differently abled for close to 15 years.

Ask Rama Chari, a consultant, how convenient the service is for her 80-year-old mother, and she says: "My mother uses a wheelchair which doesn't fit into a car's boot. So every time we'd go somewhere, we had no option but to tie the wheelchair atop the car. The very cumbersome process would put her off and she would avoid travelling. This new cab service has helped her regain mobility. In fact, she even got her wheelchair repaired from Mobility India all by herself," says Rama.

The cab drivers are sensitized to the customers' requirements, helping them in and out of the car. "I am deaf. So every time a cab reaches my home, the driver texts me saying he is waiting outside. No call is made," explains a customer.

From a 10-year-old girl who goes to school in the cab to a 70-year-old who is hospital-bound, customer profiles vary. "We even get calls from clinics. They say many of their patients drop out as they are unable to commute. Most of our clients are senior citizens and differently abled who travel to hospitals or on personal work," says Vidhya.

KickStart cabs have caught the attention of other cities too. In fact, Vidhya soon plans to expand the service both in the city and beyond. The organization hopes to get another 10 cars in the next one year. Vidhya also plans to recruit women and transgenders as drivers to empower them.

Source: Times of India

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