A change in the law now means that it is illegal for taxi drivers to discriminate against wheelchair users.
As of the 6th April 2017, taxi drivers will face a fine of up to £1,000 in the event they refuse to transport wheelchair users or if they attempt to charge the passengers any extra for the same.
By law taxi and private hire vehicle drivers will be obliged to;
- Transport wheelchair users in their wheelchair
- Provide wheelchair passengers with appropriate assistance
- Charge wheelchair users the same as non-wheelchair users
Transport Minister Andrew Jones commented:
“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 law changes apply to England, Wales and Scotland and will affect vehicles that are wheelchair accessible.
Not only will drivers be faced with the fine of up to £1,000, they could also face having their taxi or Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) license suspended or revoked by the licencing authority. Drivers that are unable to provide assistance for medical reasons will be able to apply for an exemption from the new law.
Robert Meadowcroft, Chief Executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, said:
“Today’s change in legislation is positive news, as we know that disabled people often have to rely on taxis where accessible public transport isn’t an option.
Taxi drivers can provide a vital service in getting wheelchair users from A to B so they are able to maintain their livelihoods and play an active part in society. Today creates a level playing field for both drivers and passengers.
The law now makes clear the rights for wheelchair users and the responsibilities of taxi drivers, including the penalties that will occur if they aren’t observed. Wheelchair users are frequent customers of taxi services, so instead of being apprehensive of these new rules, taxi companies should promote their accessibility credentials.”