London Councils has announced changes to the Taxicard scheme designed to help tens of thousands of Londoners with disabilities during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
With more than 60,000 members, Taxicard provides subsidised door-to-door journeys in licensed taxis and private hire vehicles for London residents who have serious mobility or visual impairments.
Managed by the cross-party umbrella group London Councils, the scheme is funded by London’s local authorities and Transport for London (TfL).
Participating boroughs have agreed new flexibilities that will allow any Taxicard member to:
have drivers pick up and deliver essential supplies to them
have friends, family members, or carers travel on their behalf using their Taxicard for the same purpose.
Boroughs have implemented the changes so that members can use the Taxicard to secure supplies when they may otherwise struggle to visit grocery shops or pharmacies.
Cllr Peter John OBE, Chair of London Councils, said: “Boroughs’ top priority during the COVID-19 emergency is to support our vulnerable residents.
“At a time when Londoners with serious mobility and visual impairments are complying with lockdown rules and unable to travel, we’ve introduced these new flexibilities to help Taxicard members keep making use of the scheme.
“We hope these changes are useful for Londoners with disabilities and help make things easier for them at this very difficult time.”
The changes have been welcomed by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). Tricia Smikle, RNIB Partnerships and Development Manager for London, said: “RNIB has been getting a huge number of calls from blind and partially sighted people worried about access to groceries, so we’re delighted that the Taxicard scheme has been extended.
“Visually impaired people are not currently included in the list of those able to access priority online shopping slots, but many will be finding it difficult to buy essential items without guidance in shops due to social distancing guidelines. Initiatives such as Taxicard are vital to ensure that everyone in society is able to get the items they need.”
James Mead, TfL’s General Manager for On Demand Transport, said: “It’s at times like these we need to adapt services to ensure they meet the current needs of the members who use them.
“We fully support these changes to the Taxicard scheme, which will ensure that some of the most vulnerable Londoners can continue to get food and medical supplies, while continuing to shield themselves safely at home in line with current Government guidelines.
“Other TfL services continue to provide essential journeys for vital workers in the NHS and other critical services. To everyone else, our message is: stay home, don’t travel, save lives.”
The changes to the Taxicard scheme are temporary, but will remain in place for the foreseeable future while COVID-19 lockdown measures are required.
Image credit: M.Mogardo (@MMogardo)