A new law will soon come in to affect which will impose penalties on taxi and private hire drivers who refuse to provide services to wheelchair users and will make it an offence to charge a higher fare to wheelchair users.
Most wheelchairs are folding wheelchairs these days so there is no real reason for any form of taxi to refuse to give users with wheelchairs a ride and these fines can be up to £1000.
These penalties are due to come in to affect from April the 6th this year and will be enforced with immediate effect. All drivers are expected to offer appropriate assistance to wheelchair users to ensure that they and their chairs are treated much the same as any other fare.
The rules will soon apply across the whole of Great Britain for taxis and private hire vehicles designated as wheelchair accessible and this includes all black cabs in London and taxis in many other cities.
In addition to the proposed fines, drivers could face the loss of their licenses if they fail to comply with the new ruling for wheelchair users. Robert Meadowcroft, the chief executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, said it was “a victory for all people with disabilities who experience daily struggles with accessible transport”.
Many disability charities have campaigned long and hard for this to become enforced as “People who use wheelchairs are often heavily reliant on taxis and private hire vehicles and this change to the law will mean fair and equal treatment for all.”
It is reckoned that historically the struggle faced by those in wheelchairs has mean that they are less able to find employment nor to play an active role in society. it is now down to the government to ensure that more is done to incentivise the private hire taxi industry so to increase the amount of wheelchair accessible cabs so that users can remain in their wheelchairs during their journey.
Faryal Velmi, Transport for All’s director, has also called or more training for drivers of taxis to improve the treatment of all disabled passengers. There are further plans afoot this year to address other barriers faced by disabled people including users of wheelchairs using all types of public transport.