Manila, Philippines is one of the least accessible cities I have visited. When I was planning my trip earlier this year, I knew that getting around to see and do things would be a challenge, but I didn’t expect accessibility to be quite as poor as it was.
Having already booked a non-refundable flight to Manila on Qatar Airways, I knew there was no turning back. I had to find a way to get from the airport to my hotel, the Hyatt City of Dreams Manila. Thankfully, with a bit of internet research, I stumbled across Wheelmobile, the first Filipino transport service for people with disabilities.
A few days before my arrival, I reached out to the folks at Wheelmobile to schedule a pick-up from the airport. They were very friendly and helpful, but our communication was limited to e-mail.
My driver was waiting for me at the airport’s curbside passenger pick-up and escorted me to the Wheelmobile in a nearby parking lot. The vehicle was adapted with a ramp (which was rather steep) that easily accommodated my power wheelchair. Inside, there were straps built-in to the floor to safely secure my chair. The vehicle was air-conditioned.
When I first asked for information, it was explained to me that the rates would be significantly higher than normal taxis in Manila. Although higher costs are frustrating, this is pretty much standard practice with accessible transport providers in Asia. Wheelmobile is actually an initiative of the Circle and Friends Foundation, Inc., a non-profit which provides reduced cost or free accessible transportation to residents of Manila with disabilities. The current rates charged to tourists and visitors are described below:
1st Hour (Regular Route): 700 PHP (~$14 USD)
1st Hour (Airport pick-up/drop-off): 1,000 PHP (~$20 USD)
Daytime (6am-6pm): 500 PHP (~$10 USD)
Nighttime (6pm-6am): 700 PHP (~$14 USD)
Obviously, these rates are actually not bad, but they are much more expensive that what you’d pay of public transportation. Unfortunately, the public transport system in Manila is not wheelchair accessible. Wheelmobile is a 24-hour service, and there are a total of 4 vehicles available for hire. It is best to book at least 24 hours in advance to ensure that a ride will be available at the time you need.
If you’d like to reserve wheelchair accessible transportation in Manila, you can reach out to Wheelmobile using the following information:
Circle of Friends Foundation, Inc.
+63 (2) 833-6453
If you have used the Wheelmobile wheelchair taxi service in Manila, Philippines yourself, please share your experiences in the comments below!