By: Daniella Jade Lowe
Wheelchair users in the UK are being overcharged indiscriminately by various taxi firms. According to previous articles printed by the Telegraph and Argus newspaper, this is a situation that has been recurring for over three years. Despite previous campaigns to end this madness, it has relentlessly continued.
As a disabled citizen, I personally have experienced this discrimination first hand. I lived in Bradford for 5 years, and ever since my first year, I’ve been charged from £5-£10, by taxi firms that I’ve used. So far, I’ve travelled with Girlington, Bradford Central and Douglas taxi firms. Girlington taxis charges me £7 each time, Douglas charges me £5 consistently and Bradford Central fluctuates between £5 and £7 depending on if it’s a weekday or weekend. Before receiving my electric wheelchair, I used to spend £14.28 a week on taxis.
On Tuesday, February 25, 2015, I was involved in a Student Union meeting at the University of Bradford and at this meeting; this cab discrimination issue was raised. During this meeting, everyone signed a petition against this display of exploitation. In this petition, everyone signed their name and what taxi firms they use in solidarity against this corruption.
The university’s student union planned a campaign in hopes to effect change against this malarkey. To highlight this issue, we created a presence at an event hosted by Turning Point (a disability group in Bradford) on Friday, 29 May, 2015 from 10:00 at Cottingley Cornerstones Centre, Littlelands, Cottingley, Bingley, West Yorkshire, BD16 1AL. Transport was provided from UBU leaving at 10am from the University of Bradford and returning for 2pm.
The day went really well. I think it was clear that this is a real issue locally and something we can move forward with. There is still a lot of work to be done. The event also included speakers and a couple of presentations on why the law should be different on how taxi fares of several taxi firms are affecting the lives of disabled people. Also, there were workshops on why the law should be different, followed by provided lunch.
For Hackney Carriages (White taxi labelled cabs), there is legislation that all their cars are adapted and can take wheelchairs. There is also a ruling that says prices are fixed and cannot be changed for a wheelchair user.
However, a brilliant initiative was introduced during the meeting called iTaxis which is an app and an innovative solution revolutionising the method they book private hire taxis. It is not a ride sharing service like Uber. It works with licensed private hire operators. A customer enters their journey details and iTaxis search their records of local private hire operators. They display the fares set by those operators for the journey. The customer can then pick an operator and pay by cash or card. The address for the company is iTaxi247 Ltd, Town Hall, St George’s St., Hebden Bridge, HX7 7BY. It is registered in England. The Company Reg No is: 8849416. Find private hire vehicles (taxis) in your local area.
Again, if this happens, disabled citizens have been encouraged to report it. There is a lot to be done and we will now be moving forward with further action, but I feel the event represents a positive move forward.