Sep 012017

Cambridge Council’s August taxi licensing newsletter (pdf) has this correction.

In the March 2017 edition of the Taxi newsletter we published an article entitled ’Important Changes to Equality Law’. The article concerned the recent changes to equality law and the duties imposed on drivers of wheelchair accessible vehicles.
Following publication of the newsletter it came to light we made an error in this article, which we would now like to rectify.
For clarification, the requirements for drivers of wheelchair accessible taxi and private hire vehicles are a policy requirement and not a legal requirement: (their emphasis)

  • Transport wheelchair users in their wheelchair
  • Provide passengers in wheelchairs with appropriate assistance
  • Charge wheelchair users the same as non-wheelchair users

This is very different from their March newsletter:

"Transport accessibility" section in Cambridge council's March 2017 newsletter

Excerpt from March 2017 newsletter

From the 6th April 2017 …In a change to the law, drivers found to be discriminating against wheelchair users face fines of up to £1,000 as part of provisions being enacted from the Equality Act.


The same “error” is still present in Cambridge Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy, and in their Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Taxi Handbook.

15.7 The Equality Act 2010 places certain duties on licensed drivers to provide assistance to people in wheelchairs and to carry them safely. There are similar requirements on drivers in relation to the treatment of passengers with an assistance dog. Neither drivers nor operators of licensed vehicles can make any extra charge or refuse to carry such passengers.

Legislative provisions and legal requirements

Drivers of wheelchair accessible vehicles must:

  • Carry a passenger seated in a wheelchair
  • Charge wheelchair users the same fare as non-wheelchair users; the meter, where used, must only be started when the journey begins

Despire correcting their newsletter, the Council has not corrected their Policy or Handbook.

Why have the Council not implemented the new taxi wheelchair law?

The Council would have to create a list of the wheelchair accessible taxis licensed by them. The drivers of said taxis would then be subject to this law. But the Council has chosen not to produce the list. (For more info, see my blog on the subject.)

The strong implication is that the Council told all taxi drivers they would be subject to this law, but changed its mind when it realised it would have to do some minor office work.

Taxi drivers in their area are not subject to a criminal law obligation against discriminating against wheelchair users (as intended by Parliament) all because the Council refuses to do some office work.

What message does that give to disabled people?

“Wheelchair accessible” Taxis and School Transport

 Taxis  Comments Off on “Wheelchair accessible” Taxis and School Transport
Oct 082015

People who know me know that I’m the largest land mammal in the world. As such I struggle somewhat to get into most supposedly “accessible” taxis. I end up with my shoulders rammed against the ceiling; together with facing backwards it’s a recipe for discomfort and car-sickness.

dishevelledcabI thus prefer to use minibus taxis (or buses, though the less said about that the better…)

The problem is that between about 7:30am and 9:30 am, and between 2:30pm and 4:30pm, on most weekdays, it’s pretty much impossible to book wheelchair accessible minibuses in Leeds, because they are all already booked.

Word on the street (well, in the taxis) was that this is because the school transport service used them to transport pupils. So I thought I’d put in a Freedom of Information Request to Leeds council to find out exactly what the situation is.

The answer is that Leeds city council use an average of 255 taxis and private-hire vehicles every school day to take disabled kids to school; rising to a maximum of 291. Of those vehicles, an average of 57 are wheelchair accessible minibuses; rising to a maximum of 62. Leeds has a total of 61 private hire wheelchair accessible minibuses, and no wheelchair accessible minibus taxis.

The council use all available private hire wheelchair accessible minibuses every school day. They have done so for years, in my experience. This raises the following questions.

  • Why doesn’t Leeds City Council provide enough wheelchair accessible minibuses to take disabled kids to school? Surely it’d be cheaper?
  • Does Leeds City Council not give a stuff about other disabled people who might need the private hire wheelchair accessible minibuses?

I suspect the answer to the last one is “no” but I can’t prove it yet as the Council haven’t provided their impact assessment in a readable form.

The response provided more statistics that may be of interest. I list them below for all and sundry to pore over like the boring sod I am, but the headline figure is that of the 4,170 taxis and private hire vehicles, under 8% are wheelchair accessible; and less than 3% of private hire vehicles. “Purple pound” eh.

Hackney Carriages (Taxis) in Leeds
Seats Accessible Non-accessible %
4 165 276 37.41%
5 to 7 92 4 95.83%
8+ 0 1 0.00%
Total 257 281 47.77%

Private Hire Vehicles in Leeds
Seats Accessible Non-accessible %
4 19 3500 0.54%
5 to 7 10 227 4.22%
8+ 61 162 27.35%
Total 90 3889 2.26%

All Taxis and Private Hire in Leeds
Seats Accessible Non-accessible %
4 184 3776 4.65%
5 to 7 102 231 30.63%
8+ 61 163 27.23%
Total 347 4170 7.68%

Vehicle Usage for Pupil Transport
Taxi People carrier Inaccessible Minibus Accessible Minibus Total
Average 125 23 50 57 255
Max 150 25 54 62 291
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