CityFleet has retained the Taxicard contract for London, according to the specialist website TaxiPoint. Transport for All has a number of concerns about this decision.
Taxicard (as well as other door-to-door services) is a lifeline for many thousands of Disabled and older people. The scheme, set up by Ken Livingstone when he was leader of the Greater London Council in the 1980s, provides vital subsidised door-to-door transport for Disabled and older people who have mobility impairments and difficulty in using public transport. It allows Taxicard holders to make a set number of subsidised journeys in licenced London taxis per year.
We are very concerned at the news that Cityfleet will retain the Taxicard contract. CityFleet supply taxis to service the Taxicard scheme via ComCab as well as supplementing the taxi fleet with private hire vehicles.
Over the past years, Taxicard users have raised to our Advice Line a number of important issues that have never been resolved by Cityfleet when it held the previous contract:
- Problems booking trips: Our Advice Line team receive many calls from users let down by the service. Cityfleet invites people to book in advance, but in reality the company only start looking for a taxi 20 minutes before the actual trip time but this does not guarantee that a taxi will actually turn up. We have also received many calls from Disabled and older people denied a return trip, just because Cityfleet could not find them a taxi back home.
- Cityfleet’s complaint service is of very poor quality. They do not appear to even look at the immensely serious complaints we or other users are sending them.
- Poor availability of vehicles and long waiting times.
- Lack of suitable vehicles for larger wheelchair and mobility scooter users who cannot use Black Cabs.
- Unfair waiting charges: Cityfleet do not provide any technology helping users to track their vehicle, or call them 5 minutes before their taxi arrives. This is a huge issue for Disabled and older people using a service that charges waiting time. Getting ready for a taxi can take longer for some Disabled and older people especially if they are living at the top of a block. It is generally unfair to ask them to wait outside (sometimes for a long time), unless users are contacted 5 minutes before.
- Un-adapted support from the drivers: we have called many times for Cityfleet to provide proper Disability Equality Training to its drivers.
- No recording of people’s journey preferences (for example in order to get in priority a known driver, which helps to build the confidence of the Taxicard users)
“London’s growing older population means that Taxicard cannot be the poor family relation in our city’s transport network. We will urgently seek assurances from London Councils and Transport for London (TfL) that there will be major improvements in this vital service” says Alan Benson, Chair of Transport for All.
Earlier this year, there were claims and counter-claims over the future funding of this vital service. London Councils have secured an agreement with Transport for London to ensure funding for the Taxicard scheme is not reduced in 2018-19.
Take action to end the postcode lottery
In addition, many boroughs have a strict banding system that gives different trips according to strict eligibility criteria which often force Disabled and older people to give up their Freedom Passes to get more trips.
As the local and Mayoral Elections are coming soon, we urge our members and supporters to challenge their Councillor/Mayoral candidates and questions them about what they will do to support and improve Taxicard services.
In the longer term, TfA believes that the Mayor and TfL should take complete control of Taxicard. Only then can we end the postcode lottery of service provision and see a levelling up of the service.
Since you’re here …
… we have a small favour to ask. Transport for All is proud to be an independent grassroots charity and we depend on donations and support from our members. Every day Disabled and older people have their lives restricted (or even become housebound) because transport services fail them. Take action so that everyone can access buses with independence