Unmet Transportation Needs of Americans with Disabilities Assessed by Analysis Group Experts
February 21, 2019
A white paper prepared by Analysis Group Vice President Greg Rafert and Associate James des Cognets suggests that a large, growing population of Americans with travel-limiting disabilities may be positioned to support demand among both manufacturers and ridesharing services for accessible and autonomous vehicles. The report, “Assessing the Unmet Transportation Needs of Americans with Disabilities,” commissioned by the American Association of People with Disabilities, estimates there are 18.5 million travel-limited individuals in the US, and the number of those requiring a wheelchair or a motorized wheelchair is estimated to increase 120% by 2022.
The report estimates that between 11-15 million travel-limited individuals have the means to purchase a private vehicle with mobility options (including autonomous or self-driving vehicles) or to use accessible ridesharing services, if available to them. Currently, no automobile manufacturer mass-produces an accessible vehicle, limiting vehicle purchases to those who can afford expensive aftermarket customization of existing vehicles.
As an alternative, the growth of ridesharing services suggests that such travel-as-a-service providers stand to benefit from supporting the travel-limited market. Early usage data from UberWAV, Uber’s new service utilizing wheelchair-accessible vehicles, show that the number of monthly UberWAV trips more than doubled over the 12 months ending January 2019, while the number of repeat users increased by 133%. Overall, the report estimates the transit needs of the travel-limited population could support a ridesharing fleet of over two million accessible vehicles.