From the 6th April, a new law will impose penalties on taxi and Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) drivers refusing to pick up wheelchair users. This announcement is a big campaign victory for Transport for All (TfA) and its members.
According to this law taxi and PHV drivers will be obliged to:
- transport wheelchair users in their wheelchair
- provide passengers in wheelchairs with appropriate assistance
- charge wheelchair users the same as non-wheelchair users
Taxi drivers who refuse to pick up wheelchair users could be fined up to £1,000 under new laws tackling discrimination.
The change in the law will also see drivers face similar fines if they attempt to charge wheelchair users more or fail to provide passengers in wheelchairs with “appropriate assistance”.
Offending drivers who discriminate against wheelchair users could lose their licence under the new legislation.
Transport for All welcomes this announcement made by the transport minister Andrew Jones on the 7th February 2017. TfA Director, Faryal Velmi said: “Transport for All are pleased that the Government has dealt with the long running issue of wheelchair users being refused access to Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (PHV) and being charged excessive fares. Through enacting Section 165 of the Equality Act finally Disabled people will have protection in law against such discriminatory and unfair practises.”
The new rules will apply across Britain, affecting vehicles that are designated as wheelchair accessible and will apply to both taxis and private hire vehicles.
We need more accessible cabs…
We now urge the government to ensure that more is done to incentivise the PHV industry to increase the number of wheelchair-accessible vehicles (WAVs).
All taxis in London are wheelchair-accessible but the capital has always had a woeful lack of accessible minicabs – with those that do take wheelchair users often charging extra. TfA hopes that more PHV operators will increase their fleet of WAVs to reduce the average wait time for wheelchair and small scooter users.
Last year we welcomed Uber’s initiative to launch a fleet of 55 Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (With plans to expand the WAV fleet to more than 100).
…and more Disability Equality Training provision to drivers
In addition we also strongly believe that Disability Equality Training (DET) needs to be rolled out throughout the Taxi and PHV industry so as to improve how Disabled passengers are treated.
Transport for All and our partner organisation Inclusion London (IL) were engaged by Uber to deliver bespoke face-to-face DET to partner-drivers who will be operating on the UberASSIST platform (a service that offers disabled and older passengers the option of getting a driver who is trained in providing assistance to disabled passengers). Drivers are trained to have the knowledge and understanding of how Disabled people may want to be assisted when travelling.
The government also announced that it will be consulting on a draft Accessibility Action Plan later this year, which will seek to address the barriers faced by disabled people in accessing all modes of public transport. We will be writing to the transport minister to ensure that Disabled and older transport users voices are heard.