26 February 2014

Taxis set to become more accessible

Wheelchair users could soon benefit from a wider range of accessible taxis based in Brighton & Hove.

Members of Brighton & Hove City Council’s licensing committee is considering new regulations which would improve accessibility of hackney carriage vehicles in the city for all wheelchair users.

A report, due to go before the committee on March 6,  is proposing changes to the council’s Hackney Carriage Accessibility Policy which would require all accessible vehicles to be equipped with single ramps. (Single ramps are those which accommodate all four wheels.)

There are currently 208 wheelchair accessible hackney carriages operating in the city - around 38% of the total number.

Many are supplied with parallel ramps rather that a single ramps. However, research has shown that most wheelchair users believe single ramps are safer and less likely to tip.

The report also recommends that wheelchair accessible vehicles must also have room for at least one other passenger and luggage.

The report has been drawn up following consultation with the taxi forum, The Fed Centre for Independent living, taxi manufacturers and suppliers.

The consultation also included an event, organised by council officers, where disabled members of the FED had the opportunity to try out the existing fleet of wheelchair accessible vehicles along with potential new vehicles.

Results from the demonstration day found that no vehicle was suitable for all types of wheelchair, and that rear loading vehicles were more popular with wheelchair users than those loading from the side. The council aims to ensure that 60% of accessible taxis in the city are rear loading.

Councillor Stephanie Powell, chair of the licensing committee said:

“Improving access to taxis and private hire vehicles is one of the priorities of Brighton & Hove City Council’s Equality Scheme.

“We are pleased that by bringing together representatives from the FED and hackney carriage operators in the city, we now have a clear way forward which will help ensure that residents, visitors and those working in our city who have disabilities are not discriminated against when travelling by taxi.”