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No cuts to Capital Call!

Added: 29 January 2009 | Updated: 30 March 2009

Transport for London has steamrollered through changes to the Capital Call, with the axe still hanging over the scheme in the London boroughs of Kingston and Merton and possibly Ealing.

The Capital Call scheme was introduced to make up for the lack of availability of black cabs (as part of the Taxicard scheme) in some parts of outer London. These include the boroughs of Bexley, Enfield, Haringey, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kingston, Lambeth and Lewisham. Members are given a fixed budget of £200 to spend on local minicab firms, and the scheme provides a valued accessible transport service.

While black cab availability has improved in some areas, for most people living in outer London not much has changed. According to Capital Call’s own figures, the highest percentage growth in membership of all the London boroughs happened in Ealing. With Capital Call membership in the borough growing at a rate of 21% this financial year. This clearly indicates a growing need.

The £200 travel Capital Call budget has been replaced by a complicated trip subsidy allowance – which means instead of having the freedom of using the budget according to their need – users will now pay the £1.50 fare up to a maximum of £11.80 per trip. Any fare that exceeds £11.80 will have to be paid for, unless users choose to ‘stagecoach’ – which they can do up to £59, while paying the equivalent far of £7.50 (5 X £1.50). This confusing arrangement will only be in place till March 2010 – after which it will be changed again.

Other changes include a membership cap in all Capital call boroughs – with a waiting list put in place for those boroughs who are over subscribed.

The lack of genuine consultation with local disabled and older service users above the changes has also left many feeling outraged at the decision. Despite reports in TfL’s magazine ‘Getting There’ Transport for All were not involved in ‘completing’ the report and like the thousands of disabled and older people who use the scheme – were presented with a ‘done deal’

In the absense of any ‘official’ consultation process TfA organised a well attended meeting in Ealing on the Thursday 12th Feb. At the meeting service users underlined their oppoistion to the cuts, disputing the figures around black cab availability.

It was only after much pressure from users in Kingston, that TfL hastly organised the first meeting about the changes on 20th Feb. Despite no P.A system being arranged for the meeting - the 50 or so service users present made their opposition clear.

Faryal Velmi, TfA Director says:

“We know that the Mayor of London and TfL are planning major changes to the Door to Door schemes in London, but no plans have been made public. At a recent TfL event in Jan, the Mayor’s newly appointed Director of Transport Policy, Kulveer Ranger, said that problems with Dial-A-Ride and the postcode lottery of Taxicard had made Door to Door provision a ‘pig’s ear’. But neither Kulveer, nor the Mayor of London’s ‘Way to Go’ consultation document on Transport mentioned any details about plans to improve and/or change the Door to Door transport service.

It seems incredibly unfair to cut current Capital Call provision – when no plans are being laid out on what it will be replaced with“.

Transport for All is working with local disabled and older activists and groups for these cuts to be reversed. To find out more information and to get involved, contact TfA.