Travel & Holidays

Introducing Diamond Cab, your accessible gateway to Hong Kong

When Doris Leung’s mother was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2006, she was confronted with a choice: take her disabled mother to her hospital appointments in the back of an illegal, but accessible “taxi”, or set up a safe, legal and disabled-friendly cab company of her own? Luckily for Hong Kong, she chose to do the latter.

Born and raised in Hong Kong by parents who worked over 12 hours a day, Leung’s respect and love for her parents, and particularly her mother, shines through in all the work she does. Paralysed down the right hand side of her body as a result of operations to remove the brain tumour, Leung’s mother had to attend hospital appointments two times a week. With accessible cabs limited to a very costly and not very practical NGO service, Leung was forced to look into Hong Kong’s illegal taxi service. With prices two to three times higher than Hong Kong’s regular cabs, these accessible vehicles were designed to carry heavy industrial equipment, weren’t very safe or comfortable for human passengers, but were for many disabled people, the only option if they wanted to travel in Hong Kong. Even the government was unable to stop them operating, as there was nothing to take their place. Not wanting to put her mother in these illegal taxis, Leung considered her options and decided that if she wanted her mother and other elderly and disabled people to be treated with the dignity they deserved, she needed to set up a cab company herself.

Diamond Cab – so named because of her mother’s love of diamond earrings, and to remind elderly and disabled people of their valuable self-worth – was born out of a meeting between Leung and Social Ventures Hong Kong directors Simon Wan and Alfred Ngai. Leung then teamed up with a local taxi firm and after years of hard work, Diamond Cab was launched in 2010. Since then, the illegal taxi service has been shrinking in Hong Kong, and with time Leung hopes there won’t be any need for it at all.

Leung and her team aren’t just interested in providing accessible transport to Hong Kong’s population though. As a group they are also actively engaged with one of today’s most pressing global issues; how to treat the ageing population with the dignity they deserve. With depression and suicide rates very high among the older population in Hong Kong, Leung launched Diamond Leisure in 2014, with the intention of fighting loneliness and isolation amongst the elderly. Diamond Leisure arranges activities for elderly and disabled people in Hong Kong, picking them up in a Diamond Cab and taking them to the cinema, to karaoke, and further afield to places of natural beauty.

Designed to bring people together and to prevent isolation, Diamond Leisure also seeks to remind people that the elderly have a lot of life left in them, and just because they are less mobile, doesn’t mean they’ve lost their ability to have fun. Initially launched as a monthly venture, Diamond Leisure is now a weekly activity and is hoping to operate twice a week from 2017 onwards.

Leung and her team are also hoping that Diamond Cab and Diamond Leisure can be used to influence a global movement too. Taiwan launched a barrier-free accessible cab service in 2013, after taking inspiration from Diamond Cab, and now run a 100 car fleet. Leung hopes that by engaging with companies around the globe, people will begin to look at the lifestyle and wellbeing needs of the older population, and not just their health and medical issues.

Diamond Cab has also recently teamed up with Martyn and Srin’s own global initiative, Accomable, in order to spread the word and promote accessible and barrier-free travel. As they grow, they hope to continue making new connections and expanding their business, in order to help people from all sections of society.

So, if you find yourself in Hong Kong and are in need of an accessible cab service, then give Diamond Cab a call on 2760 8771. The booking service operates 24/7, and though advanced booking is preferred in order for them to best meet your needs, you can also make a booking as and when you need one. Diamond Cab cars are able to accommodate two wheelchair users and two carers and have rear access ramps. They also provide an airport pick up service in the Hong Kong area.

You can visit the Diamond Cab website.

By Nichola Daunton

Featured image copyright: Thomas Yau

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If you’re planning your next holiday, why not visit our new travel site, Accomable, to find accessible accommodation not just in the UK, but across the world.

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