GOV.UK press release, 6 April 2017: Law change provides equal treatment for disabled taxi users

Law change makes it illegal for taxi drivers to discriminate against wheelchair users.

Taxi drivers face a fine of up to £1,000 if they refuse to transport wheelchair users or attempt to charge them extra, in a change to the law which comes into force today (6 April 2017).

From today taxi and private hire vehicle drivers will be obliged by law to:

  • transport wheelchair users in their wheelchair
  • provide passengers in wheelchairs with appropriate assistance
  • charge wheelchair users the same as non-wheelchair users

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said:

We are building a country that works for everyone, and part of that is ensuring disabled people have the same access to services and opportunities as anyone else – including when it comes to travel. 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.

The changes apply to England, Wales and Scotland affecting vehicles that are designated as wheelchair accessible and apply to both taxis and private hire vehicles. All taxis in London and a significant number in most major urban centres are wheelchair accessible.

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. Drivers may also face having their taxi or Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) licence suspended or revoked by their licencing authority. Drivers unable to provide assistance for medical reasons will be able to apply to their licensing authority for an exemption from the new requirements…

…  The government will be consulting on a draft Accessibility Action Plan later this year, which will seek to address the barriers faced by disabled people in accessing all modes of public transport.

Comment from Disability news service, 6 April 2017: Wheelchair-users could face further delays on long-awaited taxi access laws

….accessible transport campaigner Doug Paulley has raised concerns that the new laws could provide far less protection for wheelchair-users than had been hoped.

He has pointed out that they will only apply once a local authority has drawn up a list of all the wheelchair-accessible taxis and private hire vehicles in their area, and that local authorities can choose not to draw up such a list.

And government guidance published earlier this year says that it could take local authorities six months to draw up such a list.

Taxi and private hire vehicles are only obliged to follow the new rules if they have a fully wheelchair-accessible vehicle, but it is up to each local authority to decide how to define “wheelchair-accessible”.     Read the full blog post

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