Giving a lift for those in need.
Contributed By Jamie Koh
Recognizing the need for more wheelchair-friendly transport solutions in Singapore, social enterprise Caring Fleet Services was formed in January 2010 as Singapore’s first independent provider of specialized, dedicated and accessible transport service catering to the wheelchair-bound or people with mobility difficulties.
With a commitment to providing a safe and comfortable journey for its passengers, CFS’s minibuses are purpose-equipped and specially retrofitted with the latest features designed to meet the needs of the wheelchair-bound. Such features include auto sliding access doors, higher roof space and headroom, ISO standard wheelchair lifts and safety restraints.
CFS staff complement this state-of-the-art hardware with an equal measure of “heart-ware,” by going the extra mile to make each journey a memorable experience for its passengers. They are specially chosen for a combination of experience and skill, together with a passion to give care and the patience to serve. All staff members are trained to provide professional, efficient and caring services to ensure that the passengers are transported door-to-door in a pleasant and hassle-free manner—they do so by providing assistance in and out of the vehicle with their expertise in operating the in-vehicle features; attending to passenger’s needs with quality service standards; and even providing trip planning and coordination services for group outings.
As a testament to quality services provided, most of CFS customers are repeat users, and it has already made more than 600 vehicle trips since it started operations five months ago.
CFS offers several packages to cater to varying needs and price ranges. To ensure that their services remain accessible to all, their packages are matched with an easy registration procedure, which is free, allowing users to call in to book services without any fuss.
In general, CFS has three types of services: book-a-ride, book-a-bus, and customized packages.
For as little as S$20 per trip, CFS provides a shared service with multiple users. If more privacy or premium service is required, it is as little as S$36 per trip for an exclusive personal ride. These services would provide much needed mobility for the wheelchair-bound to be independent in running errands, or going for medical appointments.
To enable the wheelchair-bound to participate in outings with friends and family, CFS also provides a bus-booking service. Groups can opt to charter a bus for S$75 per trip for a point-to-point or airport transfer, or book a bus for a three-hour slot from as little as S$150. In providing this service, CFS takes pride in contributing to the bonding and integration of the disabled into their families, groups and communities.
Customized packages can be arranged for more attractive prices to corporate clients, or regular group users. Already, CFS counts Poolzconnect, Passion Card, NUSS and UOB Cards among its corporate partners.
|PHOTOS COURTESY OF CARING FLEET SERVICES|
With three minibuses currently plying the roads, CFS has plans to increase its fleet to 12 vehicles by the end of the year, possibly even to provide bigger mini-buses in future so that the seating capacity per trip is increased. Its current buses can take up to three wheelchairs and two caretakers.
Executive director B.K. Ng is grateful for the support CFS has received in the equipping and retrofitting of its current buses and hopes that this support will continue for its plans in expanding its fleet. “As equipping vehicles for full wheelchair accessibility is very costly and greatly reduces the seating capacities, the cost to provide this special service became high and not fully commercially viable. Therefore, support from our kind donors was necessary to get this project off the ground while we work to gain economies of scale and raise efficiencies so as to lower our operating cost down the road.”
Darryl Loh, executive director of City Harvest Community Services Association, sees much value in the services that CFS provides. She says, “By providing comfortable and safe transportation for the wheelchair-bound and their family members, it helps to pave the way for a more inclusive society. CHCSA would certainly be keen to work with CFS on a project basis to offer their services to clients with mobility problems.”
For more information, please login to Caring Fleet Service’s website at www.caringfleet.com or call +65 6281 8118.