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Krystalline Kraus's picture
Krystalline Kraus is an intrepid journalist and veteran reporter for rabble.ca since its 2001 beginnings. She needs neither a red cape nor safety goggles to fly into her latest political assignment. She often live-tweets from events -- almost exclusively First Nations and environmental issues. You can follow her on Twitter @krystalline_k.

Confessions from a disabled Uber user: I use Uber -- and I like it.

| March 18, 2016
Image: Flickr/Mark Warner

Krystalline Kraus has been reporting for rabble.ca for years -- currently, she is experiencing severe health challenges that make walking difficult and painful. You can help her get the treatment she needs by supporting her GoFundMe campaign. 

As I'm sure rabblers know by now that I am a crazy cool woman who happens to have a dis/ability that affects my spine and legs.

I'm just putting that out there that having to travel from surgeon to specialist is nearly an impossible feat right now. 

So on occasion, when there is no one to assist me or TTC transit system drops the ball -- again -- I have resorted to using Uber.

There, I said it, I use Uber.

I even have the app on my phone.

I have actually been following the development and debate around Uber for a while. I'm not sure why, I think it's because I got hooked into figuring the app part because I love technology.

I am well aware of the protests. Even the protest against Uber in Mexico that "paralyzed the roadways" before turning into a violent street riot. Yup, Uber is sure courting controversy like a Ford-champ!

Also the potential for worker abuse. As so aptly put by fellow blogger Erika Shaker

"Uber's business model, for example, involves a precarious, low-paid, unprotected workforce; a cheeky disregard (read: utter lack of respect) for jurisdictional laws or regulations; and an almost unlimited desire for self-promotion through money and personal or political connections."

I'm not a heartless "Dickensian" throwback, if there was reliable public transportation -- and not just the actual transit part or praying that some able-bodied rider will give up their precious blue seat, but the endless broken escalators and elevators or the stations with only stairs -- but something has got to give and it finally did in me.

And I'm well aware of the struggles of the municipality. Cities like Mississauga have had their beef with Uber in the past.

As the CBC reported, "Canada's sixth-largest city is making a move to regulate Uber, with Mississauga city council voting unanimously Wednesday [March 2, 2016] to halt the ride-hailing company's operations in the city while council debates how to best deal with the service."

But the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) seems to be more forgiving in a recent poll which found that the majority of the public would use Uber, with the caveat that more must be done to secure passenger safety.

But the ugly truth here is: I can't flag down a cab to save my life. Like literally if I was on fire, I'd be well…a Crip Chik on fire who still could not hail a cab.

Usually if I need a cab, it's because the TTC has fallen through. Again. And again.

So there I stand on the side of the road, propped up by a walker, or two canes, or on a good day just one cane, and cabs just won't pick me up.

They slow down alright, but the minute they spot the dis/ability gear, they speed up and disappear.

I've been left on the side of the road almost in tears because I'm freaking out about being late for an important medical appointment. Or I fear being left stranded.

I first tried Uber on a whim, which now seems to have incorporated some traditional taxi cabs into their fleet (that is a whole other story) and with their Smart Phone app, they literally come right to you with much better accuracy if you're not at a residential address (sometimes grocery shopping falls on me).

It also means no more humiliating attempt at trying to flag down a cab. That's the part that eases my heart strings.

After three cabs showing down, sizing you up, considering accommodating the dis/ability you have as a hassle and speeding off, it just feel good to know you don't have to frantically wave someone down. 

Especially on those days when I overestimate my own strength and stamina and I'm stuck half way home and near exhaustion.

I don't know what is going on inside the traditional taxi world but I have heard similar laments from people who also have a dis/ability and their struggle with trying to hail a cab. News that Uber was different swept through the Internet fast and we've shared our experiences with others in our support groups.

This certainly isn't a Crip revolution or anything like that and I am well aware that Uber is a hot potato issue and hope workers get a fair shake but anything that can give me a pinch of dignity is good with me.

Until the day the TTC gets their act together, there is Uber.


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Image: Flickr/Mark Warner



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