Adapted Vehicle Hire (AVH), the UK’s leading provider of specialist rental cars for disabled motorists, has launched an innovative new ‘Car & Driver’ chauffeur service for those with mobility problems after recent research has shown severe limitations in both the public transport options and disabled parking provision associated with the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.
The company, which is the country’s largest provider of both adapted and wheelchair accessible rental vehicles, is also urging organisers of the London Olympics and Paralympics to further improve access to events for those with mobility problems in the run up to what will be the UK’s largest ever multi-sport event.
Over 800,000 people are expected to use public transport to travel to the Games on the busiest day: more than the entire population of Leeds*. Yet according to Transport for All, only a small percentage of tube stations offer wheelchair access with the most recent statistics indicating 80 per cent are still inaccessible to wheel chair users, including many serving Olympic venues**, and only a third of London rail stations offer step-free access from station to platform.
Disabled drivers are likely to be frustrated too, as fewer than 3,000 Blue Badge parking spaces will be available across all Olympic venues nationally.
AVH has launched its Car and Driver service in response to the findings, to offer those living with a disability in Greater London and disabled Games Goers with a new transport solution.
Customers can choose from a range of wheelchair accessible vehicles, with named drivers who are trained to meet the specific needs and requirements of each individual. Avoiding public transport, customers are free from parking worries as they can be dropped off and picked up at their convenience.
Repeat customers will also build up a rapport with drivers, who they can request for their journeys.
Lorraine Farnon, Managing Director of Adapated Vehicle Hire explains: “The Paralympics is set to be one of the biggest sporting tournaments London will ever host and organisers have claimed the 2012 Games will be the most accessible ever.
“Some 5.3 million people are expected at the Games, with over a million Olympics-related journeys on public transport predicted. If you consider that more than ten percent of the UK population live with a disability – not to mention overseas visitors, the consequence is many thousands with mobility issues are likely to encounter difficulties getting to and from events.”
The Car and Driver service has been piloted with a number of AVH customers since November 2011, to streamline the service in advance of its official launch this month. Brunel University student, Tahir Tariq, 19, of Slough is one of the first users of the service. He explains:
“I suffer from cerebral palsy and have been using the Car and Driver service to travel to and from university since January. The service is extremely efficient and I find it comforting to have a regular driver.
“Before using the Car and Driver service, I was using taxis which could accommodate my manual wheelchair but not my electric one. This meant I was reliant on my classmates to push me around. For me, attending university is all about maintaining independence and this service has certainly allowed me to do that.”
Lorraine Farnon added:
“Our Car and Driver service lets people stay mobile, without the hassle of driving and parking. However for those who want to be behind the wheel we also have the UK’s largest fleet of adapted cars and wheelchair accessible vehicles for hire. These range from Nissan Micras to 4x4s and all are readily adapted further for individual requirements.
“It is vital that customers wishing to make use of the AVH Car & Driver service during the games book early to secure their dates as demand is expected to be high.
“We would also urge people intending to use them for Olympic journeys to book their parking spaces early, given the restricted number of Blue Badge berths available.”