Cabbies are to be asked to provide a better service for disabled people across Brighton and Hove.
Many drivers have already voluntarily bought taxis capable of carrying wheelchairs and they have been praised for doing so by councillors and disability campaigners.
But members of Brighton and Hove City Council Licensing Committee have decided to strengthen the council’s policies in the area.
The committee agreed to keep a list of “designated wheelchair accessible vehicles”.
Keeping the list is likely to bring more taxi and private hire drivers within the scope of the Equality Act 2010.
Those on the list will have to
- carry passengers who use a wheelchair
- not charge extra for doing so
- carry their wheelchair if the passenger chooses to sit in a passenger seat
- take steps to ensure wheelchair-using passengers are carried safely and comfortably
- give reasonable help to those passengers getting in and out of a taxi
Cabbies can be exempted from the duty to help passengers in wheelchairs either on medical grounds or if the driver is simply not physically fit enough.
The committee was told that the Get Involved Group based at the Federation of Disabled People had been consulted by the council.
A report to the committee said: “It is clear that disabled people, in particular wheelchair users, support the introduction of a list of all designated wheelchair accessible vehicles as a matter of urgency.”
The changes are expected to benefit not just wheelchair users who live in Brighton and Hove but also visitors to the area.
The taxi trade carries thousands of tourists and people attending conferences every year.
One taxi driver said: “A growing number of drivers do understand the benefits of having a wheelchair-friendly cab, especially as we have more older passengers now and a lot of them are getting less mobile too.
“They’re not cheap, and more and more of us have to have them as a condition of our licence.
“I can’t pretend we like having lots of rules and conditions and they do seem to keep changing.
“But some of us do actually buy them because it’s a good thing to do, being able to take pretty much any passenger, including those in a chair.
“I think most of us know this is the way forward for the trade.”
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