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Woking Council Taxi Enquiries - Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
We are looking for your support and input as we are trying to get a rough idea of the views and feelings of wheelchair users in relation to Taxis.
As I'm sure many of you are aware, there are two different types of licenced vehicles in every area. Private Hire Vehicles are booked in advance (often called 'minicabs') and Hackney Carriages can park on a rank in town centre and be hailed as they are driving along (these are Taxis).
It is Taxis we are looking at today.
The current Woking Borough Policy on Taxis dates from between 2007 to 2013. In 2007, it was decided that all new licenced vehicles would have to be wheelchair accessible. In 2013 it was decided that along with that policy, those vehicles that were not accessible (i.e. saloon cars) would be given until the 30th of March 2020 in which they had to comply. This meant that they effectively had seven to thirteen years in which to prepare for this requirement, and replace their saloon vehicles with suitable wheelchair accessible cars.
Woking Borough Council has recently received a petition from the Taxi drivers requesting we reconsider our policy – as they have stated that the wheelchair accessible vehicles are not suitable, and they say that it is often the case that wheelchair users prefer saloon cars anyway (preferring to sit in a seat as opposed to staying in their chair.) They say that the wheelchair accessible vehicles are not suitable and are pushing for a mixed fleet. Woking Borough Councils Licensing Department has recently written to several different local community groups as we are looking for information to assist us with ensuring Woking Taxis continue to provide as good and as widely accessible a service as it can.
Hackney Drivers often recount comments made to them, supposedly made by wheelchair users, whereupon it is stated that the wheelchair users do not like the big wheelchair accessible vehicles.
As part of the numerous consultations that took place in order to form the policy many years ago, organisations such as Surrey Access Forum, North West Surrey Association of Disabled People, Woking Information for Disability enquiries and the Surrey Users Network (SUN) were all in support of Hackneys being wheelchair accessible, and views suggested that Wheelchair Users were actually not too happy being manhandled out of their wheelchairs, and as such preferred to travel in them, in the vehicle, for ease and comfort.
We need your views!
We are hoping to canvas your views on this matter in order to provide a fair and balanced view. It is all very well providing the views of the drivers – but it is important to remember that the primary aim of the Licensing Department is to ensure the comfort and safety of the travelling public, and as such – it is absolutely vital to present the views of those that this policy or any possible policy change is actually going to affect.
- If you live in or around Woking and have made use of the Hackney Carriage / Taxis in the last few years - what do you think of the current situation?
- If you use a wheelchair or have mobility issues -- do you prefer saloon cars? Are they easier or more comfortable to get in and out of, or do you prefer the larger more spacious wheelchair accessible vehicles?
- As a wheelchair user, would you prefer to see a fully wheelchair accessible fleet? (Woking is currently about 60% accessible and yet this doesn't always guarantee an accessible vehicle is on the rank and available).
- Have you ever had problems currently with getting taxis in Woking? (or - Have you ever had problems currently with getting taxis in your area? Please specify area)
- Is there actually any benefit to having saloon cars as opposed to wheelchair accessible vehicles?
- What improvements could be made in relation to taxi vehicle licensing that would make the lives of wheelchair users, or those with mobility issues, easier?
- Anything else you feel may be of importance in relation to this matter.
We want to ensure that Woking vehicles provide the best service, and we do not want to take a step backwards in terms of accessibility. Of course – if an overwhelming number of wheelchair users come back to me saying they actually prefer the saloon cars, then naturally we will look in to making the necessary changes to facilitate their comfort.
We would very much appreciate your views and comments on relation to how you feel about taxis, how you feel taxi accessibility is currently, how it can be improved etc.
Any response you care to provide doesn't have to be a huge paragraph or a page - we're trying to keep this as quick and easy for you as possible so even if its just one or two lines, that'd be great. It all helps us see the bigger picture.
Thank you in advance for your assistance!