Everyone should have access to safe, affordable and reliable transport – and Uber’s platform aims to provide exactly that for all riders, everywhere. 

Unfortunately, Kiwis with a service animal continue to face service refusal across many sectors, including point-to-point transport. So this White Cane Day, we’re rolling out a new program which aims to provide an improved experience for Kiwis with a service animal.

From 15 October, riders with a service animal will be able to voluntarily register for Uber’s Service Assistance Program (SAP). This program will provide specialist phone support, increased driver education for those who are matched with a rider in the program, and will prompt Uber to proactively review cancellations to determine whether there has been an unlawful service refusal. The program will officially launch on 25 October.  

  • Dedicated Phone Support

An exclusive phone number will be provided to all program participants. Uber’s specially trained agents will recognise that the caller has a service animal and be positioned to ensure any issues or questions are addressed quickly and appropriately.

  • On-trip driver-partner education

After a driver-partner accepts a trip from a program participant, they will receive a notification reminding them of their legal obligations in relation to assistance animals. Any driver-partner initiated cancellations taking place after this notification may be reviewed as above.

  • Proactive cancellation reviews

Once participants have been identified as having an assistance animal, we will be able to review each time their request is cancelled, in order to determine whether there has been a breach of Uber’s Community Guidelines related to service animal refusal. This will reduce the dependency on riders to report suspected service animal refusal to Uber themselves. 

This program is a first for Uber globally, and a first for transport in New Zealand, and we’ll continue to evolve it over time with input from the blind and low vision community. 

This is another way in which we’re raising the bar for accessible rideshare. Uber remains the only rideshare operator to have all driver-partners in New Zealand undertake education on their legal obligations to transport service animals and on assisting riders with accessibility needs. 

We also have strong processes in place to look into and take appropriate action on reports of unlawful service animal refusal which were also designed in consultation with members of the blind and low vision community.

The SAP initiative builds on these existing education and processes and is part of our ongoing commitment to reduce the occurrence of unlawful service refusals, and make our platform more accessible for everyone going anywhere.

For more information on how to register, visit here from Friday 15 October, 2021 onwards.