Camuka Transport adds wheelchair-accessible van to fleet
by Nicole Proano
Camuka Transport added its first wheelchair-accessible van to its fleet this summer, giving wheelchair users in Montreal a new, flexible transportation option. With plans to include more wheelchair-accessible vehicles, including one more by as early as next spring, Camuka’s cofounders hope to provide reasonably priced rental services to people from different communities and abilities.
The company was founded by brothers Gift Tshuma, Paul Tshuma and family friend Sobekan Pushparajah. Gift and Paul, who are both wheelchair users, recognized the need and decided to start the company to address the gap. Gift Tshuma said the initial idea was to start a car rental company solely made up of wheelchair-accessible vehicles. When they realized these specialized vans might be difficult to maintain financially, they decided to include standard cars and vans in their fleet. Now, one year into the company’s inception, the company rents seven regular vehicles and one wheelchair-accessible van. “Having an accessible vehicle was very important to us,” Tshuma said, “because there’s only actually one other company [that offers this service].”
The rate for Camuka’s wheelchair-accessible van is $90 a day. Renters must make their bookings online on the Turo car-sharing app. Those who require assistance in making their reservation are invited to contact Camuka by email, Zoom or phone. “It can be a barrier for some,” he said, “so we just try to make that process as easily accessible as possible.”
According to Tshuma, wheelchair-accessible van rentals offer a flexibility and spontaneity to people with limited mobility that cannot be matched by public transit or paratransit services. Not all the STM’s metro stations are fully wheelchair accessible, and each paratransit trip must be booked in advance. Paratransit is also notorious for being late. Tshuma said the more access people with reduced mobility have to accessible vehicles, the better quality of life that may create for them.
The term “Camüka” means community in Tamil, which is a value at the centre of the business. Each of the company’s cofounders was raised in first-generation immigrant families, who witnessed the power of community growing up. “We wanted to continue that legacy through opening up this business as well,” he said. All the vehicles were acquired through personal investments sourced mainly from the cofounders, but also from friends and supporters, and they welcome support from the public in any capacity.
For information, visit https://camukatransport.ca.