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Uber’s peer-to-peer business model, which largely depends on drivers using their own vehicles to provide rides, means the vast majority of vehicles available through its service are not wheelchair accessible.   Uber is making adapted Caravans available to lease for drivers.  The leasing offer incentivizes drivers to get these Caravans on the road.

“Initial phase, we hope to see dozens of these WAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles) hitting the street,” said Jennifer Krusius, Uber’s general manager for Pennsylvania.

The number could grow depending on demand.

Lease terms match those for the sedans Uber offers, but with advantages for participating drivers. A signing bonus covers the cost of the $250 upfront deposit. Thompson is charged $640 a month for the lease, and that money is withheld by Uber from his earnings. For each week he provides 50 rides, Uber pays $100 toward the leasing costs. Thompson has been driving the adapted Caravan for about a month and said he has no trouble meeting that quota driving 40 to 50 hours a week. He also gets a $10 incentive every time he picks up a passenger in a wheelchair, which he said can happen 20 times a day.

The adapted Caravans, which cost more than $30,000 to buy, can also be used for standard UberX trips when there are no passengers who need an accessible vehicle, and can also be used for Uber’s more expensive UberXL service.

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Jonathan standing by his van. The back of the van is open with a ramp extending to ground level
Jonathan Thompson, 28, leases a 2015 Dodge Caravan that’s been modified to be wheelchair accessible as part of an Uber program designed to increase ride availability for passengers with mobility issues. (Alejandro A. Alvarez/Philadelphia Daily News/TNS)








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