A WHEELCHAIR user has described buying a taxi in Cardiff as an ‘absolute trial’ after being forced to drive over a mile to get a wheelchair-friendly vehicle.
Glyn Jones, from Fairwater, attempted to hire a wheelchair-accessible taxi on Easter Sunday to take him home from a friends house in Grangetown, only to be told there were none of available.
“I had to be home in Fairwater by 10 p.m. so my caregiver could get me ready for bed,” he said.
“I called to arrange a taxi and all the operators told me there were none available, they had no accessible taxis on duty.”
“The Dragon Taxis representative told me that there were no wheelchair accessible taxis available. I said, ‘look, why do you have a license if you never have taxis available? »
After trying for “a good few hours” to book a wheelchair-accessible taxi, Mr Jones says he was forced to drive a mile down Corporation Road in his wheelchair to a local pub.
There he found “seven or eight taxis in the taxi rank outside – and the first in line had wheelchair access and a Dragon Taxis logo on the side”.
the National has reached out to Dragon Taxis for comment, but has not received a response as of press time.
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Mr. Jones told the National that the lack of accessible taxis almost caused him to miss his evening appointment with his carer and could have seen him having to sleep in his wheelchair at his friend’s house at night.
“I thought I was going to have to spend the night in my friend’s living room, that I was going to have to sleep in my wheelchair and leave the dog at home all alone,” he said.
“I don’t understand why these companies are unable to guarantee that people in wheelchairs can take a taxi. This isn’t something you get in any other city – in London every taxi is wheelchair accessible.
Since 2017, taxi and private hire vehicle providers operating wheelchair accessible vehicles in England, Wales and Scotland have been legally required to transport wheelchair users.
Those who refuse to do so face fines of up to £1,000 and risk having their license suspended.
Despite this, Mr Jones says drivers of wheelchair-accessible taxis refuse him “all the time”, even when there are taxi drivers on duty.
“There were times when the marshals asked four different wheelchair accessible taxis to take me and they all refused.”
“It’s like the Wild West there. It is an absolute ordeal trying to get a taxi as a wheelchair user in Cardiff.
Cardiff Council has a complaints process for people with disabilities who wish to complain about taxi drivers or suppliers. However, Jones says the process takes too long and is too complex to be effective.
“They have to schedule a hearing at the Licensing Committee, which meets once a week. You arrive at 9am and if you’re not the first up, you might be there until noon.
“I was there one day for four hours – It actually prevents you from reporting it.”