Getting a taxi as a wheelchair user can be taxing.

When you need a taxi but the company can’t provide an accessible taxi, what is the solution?

Where I live in the U.K., there are two primary taxi companies. Both no longer seem to provide taxis after 10 p.m. and no one is able to pre-book an accessible taxi more than an hour in advance. While this is frustrating and inconvenient, I believe these companies are only partially at fault.

These taxi companies previously offered a comprehensive service to wheelchair users, but they did so by charging extra, a fare and a half to be precise. At that time, this was challenged by the equality commission and another local wheelchair user. They lost and were required to reduce the fare. It’s now a fare and a third.

I believe the case won because it should have, and the intention was to stop disabled people having to pay extra just because they are disabled. However, there was an unintentional side effect and consequence to this decision. Taxi drivers no longer believe it makes financial sense to offer accessible services, and so we now have inept services. Often you call only to hear the words “we don’t have any wheelchair accessible taxis out tonight.”

I remember when I first was told I was going to be charged extra for my journey, I felt confused, as I couldn’t understand how this was fair. However, I also felt I couldn’t challenge it for fear of not being able to get the service I needed. During my next taxi journeys, I spoke to the taxi drivers and asked for their thoughts. They offered many reasons as to why felt they had to charge extra:

1) They have to pay for the car adaptions themselves, the government does not subsidize them.

2) It can take extra time to support a wheelchair user into or out of the car

3) They felt the mobility component of Disabled Living Allowance / Personal Independence Payment supported the wheelchair user to pay for their taxi journeys, so they did not feel it was unjust to charge extra.

I couldn’t argue with much of their reasoning, as I did not feel the drivers deserve to be out of pocket. But it also did not sit comfortably that people with disabilities have to pay for needing more support, when this is not something we have chosen. However, where can this money come from? What might the solution be?

On a similar note, when you can’t pre-book a wheelchair accessible taxi and so have no option but to take a standard taxi, but then are reliant on others to push you in your manual wheelchair; what do you do when that taxi refuses to take you and says their car boot is too small for the chair, they are not insured to take any wheelchairs, or they have hurt their back? The reality is, it might well take longer to wait for me to enter and exit the car and the driver may lose time or another fare as a result. But again I wonder, do other wheelchair users find themselves in similar positions? What have they done? What is fair?

I don’t think it’s fair a taxi driver has to pay extra to provide an accessible vehicle or lose a possible needed fare while supporting a wheelchair user, but I equally don’t think it’s fair to limit an essential method of transport for wheelchair users, or expect a wheelchair user to fund the difference.

10 thoughts on “Getting a taxi as a wheelchair user can be taxing.

  1. I think the taxi drivers should have a more generous approach to their passengers…that point about them taking longer isn’t fair at all. Lots of people take different lengths of time when using a taxi. People in house parties or pubs who leave the taxi just sitting there, mothers with children and buggies, the elderly, people who count out their change and others who throw down paper money and ask to hop out at the traffic lights. Each customer is different and it swings in roundabouts for the taxi driver, they should accept customers as they are and have a more well rounded person centred approach.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think expecting the extra cost to come out of PIP is really unfair. I mean, my PIP goes towards taxi journeys because i can’t physically manage the public transport in the first place!

    I know black cabs have ramps fitted as standard but there should be government grants available for smaller companies (and ones like Uber) for kitting out a car to become wheelchair accessible.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it is awful that taxi’s near you don’t cater to wheelchair users. I just can’t believe how in this day and age the world is still so backwards when it comes to being accessible for all.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m learning so much about the gap in care for people in wheelchairs. I think the first step is what you are doing. Making people aware of the gaps so they can be fixed. Much love!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s such a tough situation as I don’t think wheelchair users should be charged extra for using taxis as it’s not their choice, but also if the taxi companies are paying for it from their own pocket I kind of get it, but the government should subsidise this in some aspect x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I find it incredible that in today’s society this is an issue, if a black cab has a ramp, I don’t understand how other companies can’t accommodate. Well done for highlighting the issue x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow how can they not cater for wheelchair users that’s really unfair. I would have thought you’d be able to pre-book at least and am shocked this isn’t the case.

    Liked by 1 person

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