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Compared to taxis, what percentage of UK private hire vehicles are wheelchair accessible?

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

If you are a wheelchair user or have mobility issues, you may wonder how easy it is to find a taxi or a private hire vehicle (PHV) that can accommodate your needs. In this blog post, we will look at some statistics on the availability and accessibility of taxis and PHVs in England and Scotland, based on the latest data from the Department for Transport (DfT) and Transport Scotland.

According to the DfT, there were 251,100 licensed taxis and PHVs in England as of March 2021, a decrease of 15.9% since 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Of these, 77% were PHVs and 23% were taxis. However, only 2% of PHVs were wheelchair accessible, compared to 54% of taxis. This means that out of the total number of licensed vehicles, only 14% were wheelchair accessible. The situation was slightly better in London, where all taxis were wheelchair accessible, but still only 2% of PHVs were.

In Scotland, there were 23,900 licensed taxis and PHVs as of 2020, according to Transport Scotland. Of these, 77% were PHVs and 23% were taxis, similar to the proportions in England. However, the percentage of wheelchair accessible vehicles was higher in Scotland, at 23% of the total number of licensed vehicles. This means that there were more than twice as many wheelchair accessible vehicles per capita in Scotland than in England.

These statistics show that there is still a significant gap between the demand and supply of wheelchair accessible vehicles in both countries. According to the National Travel Survey, people without access to a car make around four times as many taxi/PHV trips and travel twice as far as those that have access to a car. Moreover, women make more taxi/PHV trips than men, but travel the same distance. Therefore, it is important to ensure that people who rely on taxis and PHVs for their mobility have access to vehicles that suit their needs and preferences.

One way to improve the accessibility of taxis and PHVs is to increase the incentives and regulations for operators and drivers to provide wheelchair accessible vehicles. For example, some local authorities offer grants or discounts for licensing fees or vehicle purchase costs for wheelchair accessible vehicles. Another way is to raise awareness and educate drivers and passengers on how to use wheelchair accessible vehicles safely and comfortably.


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