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 announced today (7 February 2017) by Transport Minister Andrew Jones.
From 6 April 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 want to build 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 new rules will apply in England, Wales and Scotland affecting vehicles that are designated as wheelchair accessible and will apply to both taxis and private hire vehicles. All taxis in London and a significant number in most major urban centres are wheelchair accessible.
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. 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.
Robert Meadowcroft, Chief Executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, said:
This is a victory for all people with disabilities who experience daily struggles with accessible transport.
Being able to get from A to B is usually very easy for most people, however we know that this can be a challenge that affects a disabled person’s entire life, including their ability to have a job and play an active part in society. This is a positive and very welcome step in the right direction which we hope will not affect the number of accessible taxis being made available by companies because of the duties now being placed on to drivers.
Muscular Dystrophy UK and our Trailblazers have been campaigning on this issue for many years, and we commend the government for listening to the views of disabled people.
The new requirements, which will come into force from 6 April, complement those already in place to prevent discrimination against users of assistance dogs and underline the government’s wide-ranging commitment to supporting transport networks which work for everyone. 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.