The Extra Costs Commission, a year-long independent inquiry into the extra costs faced by disabled people, found that disabled people may often experience a number of challenges when using taxis or private hire vehicles (PHVs), including overcharging, poor attitudes from drivers and an overall lack of accessible vehicles.
In this blog, Kelly Perks-Bevington, a twenty-seven year wheelchair user, tells us about her personal experiences of using taxis and PHVs.
As a business woman and someone with extremely “itchy feet”, I travel a lot!
When I am travelling in London, I am kind of limited in that I do have to use taxis to get around because there are certain tube stations that are still inaccessible. When I’m rushing from meeting to meeting, I find it easier to just Google how long a taxi is going to take and then hop in one. There’s less risk and you don’t have to worry if you’re stranded on the underground.
London is great in that it has a lot of black cabs and you can just hail one when you need one. But then sometimes you call one over and the ramp in broken or they’ve got to go somewhere – basically any excuse not to get out and assist you getting into the car.
I’ve also noticed that there is sometimes a supplement when someone has to get out and put the ramp up for you. This can be up to £3 sometimes!
Often when I’ve phoned up for a PHV, it turns up and it is not suitable. I haven’t used an app to book a minicab yet but just tend to try and grab what I can get.
Travelling in other cities
In other big cities like Birmingham and Manchester, a lot of companies advertise that they offer wheelchair accessible vehicles. However, similar to London sometimes you can phone up, describe your exact needs and they will send a hatchback and expect you to fold your wheelchair up!
I’ve found that Cardiff is probably the best place for wheelchair accessible vehicles. The vehicles have straps and a proper area for you to sit in the back. It’s a lot safer than just being piled in the back of a black cab and rolling around!
Improving taxi and PHV services for disabled people
I’d want to see more training for staff so that they understand more about different disabilities they can expect to come across and the different equipment that people may use and how to assist these passengers.
A good number of accessible PHVs would be fantastic so that you’re not waiting an hour for one to arrive. It’s all well and good if you’ve got a couple of days to book in advance but what happens when you need to get somewhere in 15 minutes and you need to jump in a cab like anybody else would? You need to be able to work on a bit of spontaneity!
In ten years’ time I would love it if I could just book a taxi or PHV and have it turn up in the normal allotted time and be easy to get in and out of, with no extra charges and no grumbling from the drivers when they have to give you a bit of assistance! It would be great to see this outside of bigger cities too!
Today Uber has launched UberWAV , a new service offering wheelchair accessible vehicles in London. This is a welcomed step to increase choice for disabled people when using taxis and PHVs.