Every morning, Corey Lamb puts himself at risk to transport the City of San Francisco’s most vulnerable residents. He stocks his cab with all types of PPE (personal protective equipment) such as gloves, masks and sanitizer.
Lamb, who has been a professional driver since 2006 and was named the 2019 Paratransit Taxi Driver of the Year by the City of San Francisco and Paratransit Board, has developed a deep passion and drive to focus his taxi services on the people who need him most.
“I focus on providing dignified transportation services for people who would otherwise be confined to their home. My focus is on them and their needs. What’s getting me through COVID is that I have a segment of my clientele that are dialysis patients. Regardless of what is going on in the world, they need to go to dialysis. I pick them up and take them. I make that happen,” Lamb said.
Lamb owns two wheel chair accessible taxicabs in San Francisco. He also just purchased the first hybrid wheel chair vehicle in the City of San Francisco. As a child, his mother worked for a non-profit organization that taught adults with Autism and Down Syndrome. Their focus was to teach them how to be independent. The compassion Lamb saw in his mother toward these people is the driving force behind him catering to those in need of transportation.
“I bought both cars brand new. I wanted my passengers to not feel like a run of the mil ride. For me, it’s important that they understand that I care they are being transported in a safe vehicle. The people who have disabilities are usually not considered in planning until the end. I wanted my business to show them they are being considered at the beginning,” Lamb stated.
New Types of PPE Available for Taxicab, Limo and Paratransit Drivers
The challenges of transporting the public today have changed compared to a few months ago. In today’s world of face masks, hand sanitizer and Lysol spray– the taxi industry is an essential business that needs to be proactive about using PPE, not only making passengers feel safe – but also their drivers.
That’s why Hansu Kim, President of Flywheel Technologies (a California based taxi booking app) has been working with Taxi Butler in the Netherlands to distribute the Flywheel Shield to transportation companies in need throughout North America.
“We want to bring more confidence in the taxi industry. For vehicles that are on the road, we need to show we are being proactive and staying safe compared to Uber and Lyft by utilizing different types of PPE,” Kim said.
The City of San Francisco has purchased 500 of these shields from Flywheel in response to a need to protect both drivers and passengers. Drivers are deemed essential workers and their passengers include our most vulnerable population of elderly, medically fragile or immune compromised.
Since the shields are considered Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the City is able to use funds they received from government to equip taxis with this important PPE.
“These are easy to install and easy to remove. It gives real protection in an enclosed space. The Flywheel Shield is universal and works in all types of vehicles from a compact hybrid to a larger wheel chair accessible mini van (two of the most common vehicles used in the taxi industry),” Kim explained.
In addition to the shields, the City of San Francisco has introduced The Essential Trip Card designed to help the elderly and in need population purchase fares at reduced cost.
A Whole New World
Pre-coronavirus, many transportation companies were making non-essential items such as phone chargers, mints and mini water bottles available for passengers.
Shields that were previously installed were mainly used to protect drivers from unruly or violent passengers. They were designed to protect the driver from robbery.
Right now, the majority of passengers using public transportation are first-responders and patients. Drivers need to feel safe about going to work every day and the general population needs to feel safe when riding in public transportation.
“As an essential service, we need to take proactive measures to protect drivers and passengers. We are transporting the most vulnerable – people with fragile medical needs, the elderly and first-responders,” Kim said.
The Flywheel Shield, which went through several different prototypes is easy to install and has been tested by Flywheel Taxi of San Francisco already. It straps on around the front seat and has a sliding opening to pass through payment if needed (card or cash), vouchers and receipts between passenger and driver. At a price point ranging between $40-$50 (depending on order count), the Flywheel Shield is available to purchase for taxi companies across North America. Email [email protected] or call 630-886-6868 for more information on purchasing.
Budgeting for PPE
Many cities and municipalities are looking to purchase this type of PPE for drivers. Before purchasing, Kim said it’s a good idea to check with your City to see if they will reimburse transportation companies for purchasing and installing PPE in public transportation vehicles.
“Drivers feel safer and passengers are saying this is fantastic,” Kim added.
Kim is hoping that other transportation companies across the country will step up and make the necessary changes within the industry to keep people moving, safely.
The Coronavirus, which we know is mainly transmissible through airborne respiratory particles – can be halted from spreading via masks but also with plastic shields between people. Grocery stores have installed these shields in front of cashiers to keep them safe. Doctors and nurses wear them while on duty. It is essential that those working during the pandemic change the way they protected themselves.
Flywheel Taxi driver Lamb is married with 2 kids and is looking forward to installing the Flywheel Shield into his vehicles. He wants to keep not only himself and his family safe, but also his passengers.
“We need to treat these people like family. When you have that mentality, it’s not just a passenger. It’s Amelia’s son. It’s John’s brother. It’s not just a guy I pick up 3 times per week. There is a name attached to it and a story,” Lamb explained further. “There is a relationship there. It’s not just a business for me, it’s a commitment I have to the community to make sure their needs are always met.”
If you would like more information or would like to place an order for the Flywheel Shield, please call 630-886-6868 or email [email protected]
Written by Laura Loftus who is an Executive Broker/Sales and Underwriting Manager with more than 10 years of experience insuring business in the For-Hire, Livery & Shared Economy industries. Looking for a quote on your business? Call us Monday – Friday, 8 am to 5 pm pacific: 800-980-1950 or email us anytime!