The Government has published its Inclusive Transport Strategy. What does it mean for the taxi and private hire sector?
Increased enforcement activity
Mandatory disability awareness training for licensed drivers
Increased adoption of designated lists
Ranks and infrastructure changes
The strategy builds on the responses received to the 2017 consultation on a draft Accessibility Action Plan, and sets out how the Government will deliver the necessary changes to transport networks, both through government interventions and working in partnership with industry and others.
Increased number of WAVs
The strategy is clear that it will be looking to licensing authorities to use their licensing powers to improve accessible taxis & private hire in their areas.
It sets out the steps the Department is taking to encourage local licensing authorities to increase the numbers of wheelchair-accessible taxis and private hire vehicles…
This Strategy should help ensure that authorities not only use the powers available to them to ensure that taxi and PHV services not only comply with the legal requirements but that these services meet the needs of passengers more consistently.
The strategy set out plans for “Better enforcement of statutory regulations, for example, the carriage of assistance dogs in taxis and private hire vehicles.”
We will undertake research to identify why the risk of fines and the loss of a driver’s licence appear insufficient in some circumstances to prevent them from discriminating against assistance dog owners. We will use evidence from this work to support any further action that we may take in this area to ensure that assistance dog owners are able to travel by taxi and PHV free from the fear of discrimination.”
Mandatory training for licence holders
The Government will mandate disability awareness and equality training for drivers.
By end of 2019, publish for consultation revised best practice guidance to support local licensing authorities (LLAs) to use their existing powers more effectively. In particular we will recommend that authorities require taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers to complete disability awareness and equality training, make it simple to report discrimination and take robust action against drivers alleged to have discriminated against disabled passengers.
Do everything in our power to ensure that local licensing authorities make full use of their existing powers, including recommending that driver disability equality and awareness training be mandated in licensing policies.
There is likely to be an increase in the number of licensing authorities who will be adopted designated WAV lists that will place additional statutory duties on licence holders.
By autumn 2018, we will write to all local licensing authorities stressing the importance of supporting an inclusive taxi and PHV fleet and ask those authorities who have not already done so to publish lists of vehicles designated as wheelchair accessible under Section 167 of the Equality Act 2010. We will continue to monitor the proportion of WAVs within overall taxi and private hire vehicle fleets, as reported in the annual DfT taxi and PHV statistics,66 and to seek clarification from authorities as to the steps they are taking to assess and respond to the local need for such vehicles. As a first step we have published a list of the highest performing Local Licensing Authorities in terms of the proportion of WAVs in their fleet.
We will also publish a list of those authorities which do, and do not, publish lists of WAVs, to share best practice. If the number of authorities publishing these lists does not increase significantly, we will consider amending the Equality Act to mandate local licencing authorities to publish lists of wheelchair accessible vehicles in their local areas.
Ranks and infrastructure
Taxi ranks and public realm changes may become a feature of the future. In the longer term we want the service currently provided by taxis and PHVs to be as accessible to disabled passengers as it is for those who are not disabled. This should mean not only that vehicles are sufficiently accessible to provide for people with a range of access needs, but that the means of hiring them is accessible, that passengers can be picked up or dropped off at a location convenient to them, and that no disabled person is ever left at the kerbside or charged extra for their journey. We also want LLAs to understand their role in helping this to happen, both through the licensing system and through other areas of influence, such as traffic management.
From autumn 2018, publish data on an annual basis on the proportion of wheelchair accessible taxis and PHVs in local areas;
From autumn 2019 publish on an annual basis a list of those authorities which we know to have issued a list of taxis and PHVs designated as being wheelchair accessible in accordance with Section 167 of the Equality Act 2010;
By end of 2019, publish for consultation revised best practice guidance to support local licensing authorities (LLAs) to use their existing powers more effectively.
Continue to encourage local licensing authorities, which have not already done so, to publish lists of taxis and PHVs designated as wheelchair accessible under Section 167 of the Equality Act 2010, and to inform the Department that they have done so.