The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) were left ‘disappointed’ by the lack of new taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) legislation contained in the draft best practice guidance.
The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) shared their response to the draft best practice guidance for taxi and PHV licensing authorities in England.
DPTAC was established by the Transport Act 1985 and is the Government’s statutory advisor on issues relating to transport provision for disabled people.
While the DPTAC were ‘pleased’ with the coverage of disabled people’s concerns in the guidance, there was an area of ‘disappointment’ based on the lack of new legislation on taxi and private hire.
The DPTAC’s response to the consultation said: “We are disappointed that the government is still not prepared to legislate on taxi and PHV licensing. There have been dramatic changes in the operating environment for this service over the past 25 years, particularly with the development of smartphones, yet there has been no significant legislation in this area since the 1970s.
“During the same period, the expectations and experiences of disabled people have also changed substantially since the passage of the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995. With so many areas of life more accessible for disabled people (including many transport services), it is a source of considerable disappointment that disabled people continue to report widespread problems with the refusal of service by drivers.
“In significant parts of the country, there is almost no service available for wheelchair users who require a wheelchair accessible vehicle.”
There was also ‘surprise’ that the new Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Disabled Persons) Act 2022, which came into force on 28 June, was not included in the updated guidance.
Another concern highlighted by DPTAC focused on the need for mandatory disability awareness training for all cab drivers and also the introduction of ‘lesser sanctions’ that can be used to enforce the industry.
In the statement it read: “DPTAC advisers would like it to be made clear that these standards must include mandatory disability awareness training for all drivers as this will help to strengthen the recommendation in paragraph 6.3 that such training should be provided.
“This is particularly important as over half of licensing authorities do not currently require this training. The Department for Transport (DfT) 2021 taxi and private hire vehicle statistics for England put this figure as 51% for taxi drivers and 54% for private hire vehicle drivers.
“The guidance highlights one of DPTAC’s concerns about the current licensing regime, that it contains very limited tools to drive improvements in driver and operator behaviour. The sanctions available for drivers who fail to deliver an acceptable standard of service consist of temporary suspension of their license or its permanent revocation.
“These are very harsh sanctions resulting in significant loss of income and can only really be used in the case of very serious misconduct. There are no lesser sanctions that can be used to deter behaviour that is poor but does not justify the suspension of a license. Moreover, unlike other transport sectors, there is no provision for payment of compensation to a disabled person who received poor service nor any simple redress mechanism that offers consumers the chance to pursue their claim without the need to go to court.”
The Department for Transport (DfT) are currently analysing the feedback from the consultation which closed 20 June 2022.