Dunedin's disabled residents who do not have their own
transport will be able to rent a vehicle suitable for their
needs for the first time next week.
Freedom Mobility, a mobility vehicle rental company, will be
opening a new base in Dunedin. Currently there are no rental
mobility vehicles available in Dunedin, although there are
several mobility taxis available for hire.
The company has 17 mobility vehicles ranging from vans able
to transport people in wheelchairs to vehicles with hand
controls in its South Island fleet. However, these vehicles
where previously only based in Christchurch and more recently
Freedom mobility director Margaret Hawkes said this meant it
could be prohibitively expensive for people outside these
areas to hire these vehicles for a short-time.
Mobility vehicles could be expensive, coming in at between
$35,000 and $55,000 and some people found it difficult to
afford them, she said.
Others had conditions that could change and it was difficult
to predict their future needs, so buying a vehicle was less
attractive, she said.
The ability to rent a mobility vehicle would also help cruise
ship passengers who were not in Dunedin for very long but
wanted to get out and explore independently, Mrs Hawkes said.
Dunedin residents with disabled relatives visiting town could
also benefit from renting.
At the moment there was no mobility vehicle available for
disabled learner drivers to rent to have driving lessons and
sit tests in Dunedin, she said.
Initially, the Dunedin fleet would consist of one Toyota
Hiace van with a hoist in the back but more vehicles could be
moved to Dunedin if necessary, Mrs Hawkes said.
Disability Information Office service manager Sallyjane
Cranfield expected the rental service would ''take off'' in
''Anything that allows more freedom of mobility is
positive,'' she said.
Dunedin resident Donna-Rose McKay said she was familiar with
Freedom Mobility and
the move would be a good thing for Dunedin's disabled
Although she owned her own mobility vehicle, she planned to
hire one for her Auckland holiday next year as this was more
convenient than taking four days to drive there.
She thought access to rental vehicles would be good for
companies seeking to bring people to Dunedin for employment
and also for disabled people wanting to decide whether to
learn to drive.
- by Jonathan Chilton-Towle