The importance of taxis for disabled people

The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) has published its proposals for taxi and PHV services to become more fully accessible to disabled travellers.

The DPTAC said: “Taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) are one of the most popular modes of transport for disabled people after the private motor car. Disabled people use taxis more than non-disabled people despite more of them living in relative poverty. Taxis and PHVs provide a door-to-door service, with scope for individual assistance with the particular needs of a disabled passenger.”

As such, it believes that “taxi and PHV services should be fully accessible to disabled travellers, and this statement sets out our proposed framework for achieving such a service.”

What are the DPTAC proposals?

  1. It should be part of the role of a licensing authority to:
  • make drivers aware of the breadth of their duties
  • provide training in how to carry out the full extent of their role
  • discipline drivers who provide inadequate service to passengers

2. The Government must give licensing authorities the powers to generate sufficient income to enforce this expectation of the role of drivers and apply appropriate sanctions.

3. Licensing authorities will need – with appropriate guidance from the government – to:

  • provide training for drivers on disability awareness and wider customer care issues
  • develop a straight-forward and fair way of taking disciplinary action against drivers who fail to provide a reasonable level of service
  • develop an exemption regime for drivers who have a disability or other health problems which may limit the assistance they can provide

A universally accessible vehicle

In the absence of a universally accessible vehicles “DPTAC believes that a mixed fleet of WAVs and conventional saloon cars is necessary at present. It remains our aspiration to see the introduction of a universally-accessible vehicle, and we’re particularly monitoring the development of autonomous vehicle systems to see if they offer the potential for such a vehicle.”

However, DPTAC also recommended that it “believes that legislation should require licensing authorities to set the proportion of WAVs required in their fleets of taxis and PHVs. This should be based on their knowledge of the current market and existing provision and a review of potential demand.”

Stephen McCaffrey

Regulatory defence barrister specialising in taxi and private hire licensing law, appeals and defence.

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