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Disabled travellers use taxis and PHVs 55% more than those without disabilities says DfT report

Image credit: LEVC

Disabled travellers rely on taxis and private hire vehicles 55% more than other people without disabilities according to new government research released by the Department for Transport (DfT).

The statistics are part of a new transport report released by the DfT around disability and accessibility across all modes of transport in England.

The report highlights that adults with a disability made more trips using a taxi or Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) than those without a disability, but travelled a similar distance, on average.

The average number of trips taken in a cab by a disabled user in 2019 was 17 compared to 11 for those without a disability.

Despite the increase in the number of journeys made, the combined distance of trips were however similar. Disabled users travelled on average a combined 64 miles, whilst none disabled users totalled an average of 65 miles. This suggests that disabled users make shorter and more regular trips than people without disabilities.

In terms of accessibility, all 19,000 of London taxis were wheelchair accessible as required by Transport for London’s ‘Conditions for Fitness’ taxi licensing policy at March 2020. Similar to last year, in metropolitan areas of England outside London 82% of taxis were wheelchair accessible.

Across England 58% of licensed taxis were compliant with accessibility regulations, compared to just 2% of PHVs.

The report also highlighted that 67% of authorities require all or part of the taxi fleet to be wheelchair accessible, a small increase from 65% in 2019. However, only 4% of authorities require all or part of the PHV fleet to be wheelchair accessible.

78% of authorities maintain a list of wheelchair accessible taxis in line with section 167 of the Equality Act 2010, while 69% maintain a list of wheelchair accessible PHVs (an increase from 63% in 2019).

In the year ending 31 March 2019 there were 32 prosecutions for offences committed by taxi and private hire vehicle drivers and operators in relation to sections 168 and 170 (assistance dog refusals by taxi and PHV drivers), and section 165 (wheelchair user discrimination by taxi and PHV drivers) in England and Wales. According to the report the number of prosecutions have in general been increasing.

Taxi disabled access is currently in the spotlight following a landmark High Court ruling in January that stated the Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL) “acted unlawfully” in their treatment of licensed taxis, in the Streetspace for London Plan and associated Guidance and the A10 Bishopsgate Traffic Order.

In her judgment, Senior High Court Judge, Mrs Justice Lang DBE, found that the Mayor and TfL respectively failed to distinguish the special status of taxis from “general traffic”, neither taking into account the distinct status of taxis as a form of public transport nor the travel needs of those who rely on accessible taxis.

Away from the taxi industry, the report also highlighted a rising level of hate crime towards disabled people travelling on England’s railways. The finding is said to be a wake-up call to the industry to stop the cost-cutting that has emptied staff from trains and stations according to RMT General Secretary Mick Cash.

New figures published have shown that hate crimes towards disabled people traveling on the rail network have risen by 24% in the last three years.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “The figures show we have a growing problem with hate crimes toward disabled people on our railways. It is frankly disgraceful that disabled people, who already take far fewer trips by rail, are being increasingly subjected to hate crimes when they do travel. The Department’s own research tells us that the answer to this is more staff.

“If we’re going to build back better after the pandemic so that disabled passengers feel safe to travel and the rail network is truly accessible, we need to stop the profit-driven cost-cutting and put more trained and skilled human beings back on our trains and at stations.”

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