Number of accessible taxis in Adur ‘at an all time low’

Accessible Hackney Carriages and private hire vehicles are ‘at an all time low’ in Adur and disability groups have called for more measures to be taken.

It is estimated that just three of the Hackney Carriages licensed in the area are able to carry a wheelchair, according to a report before Adur District Council’s licensing committee.

This has come to light as part of a consultation on Adur’s taxi and private hire handbook which acts as a guide for hire companies and drivers.

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One resident said they had waited for two hours, on two different occasions for a suitable vehicle and asked for ‘more wheelchair friendly cabs’.

There are concerns about Adur not having enough accessible taxis and private hire vehicles

ADC – which issues licences to private hire companies and drivers – could require companies to make a minimum number of their fleet accessible.

Currently, if a vehicle changes hands, the council requires the licence holder to make the vehicle wheelchair accessible when they renew.

ADC says this helps to ‘maintain a mixed fleet’ but that ‘alternative methods need to be sought’ to increase the number of accessible vehicles.

Disability groups have also given feedback to the council.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) requested that mandatory disability training be given more regularly.

A Guide Dogs for the Blind Association spokesperson said that 35,400 people were living with sight loss in West Sussex in 2019 and that taxis and private hire vehicles are ‘essential for the independence of disabled people’.

“Accessing taxis and PHVs can be a major challenge for assistance dog owners,” they said, “A 2019 Guide Dogs survey found that 73 per cent of

assistance dog owners who have experienced an access refusal were

refused by a taxi or PHV driver in a one year period – despite this being

a criminal offence under the Equality Act 2010.”

The charity called on the council to make clear to drivers the consequences of refusing assistance dogs and also asked for CCTV in cabs to record audio.

ADC said it requires all vehicles to have CCTV and has a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to offences.

Members of the trade also took part in the consultation.

Zoom Private Hire’s director expressed their frustration over window tint requirements and said this was driving vehicles to other local authorities.

The council said it would clarify its policies but still required window tints to meet certain standards.

The Secretary of the Brighton & Hove Cab Trade Association also called for a crackdown on Adur licensed vehicles that work predominantly in other areas.

“There appears to be more Adur hackney carriages never leaving Brighton and Hove and consequently adding to the ever diminishing loss of local licensing control,” they said.

As a result the council will consider an ‘intended use policy’ which requires drivers to register in the area where they carry out the majority of their work.

One driver expressed frustration at ‘constant amendments’ to the handbook and ‘overregulation’.

They said: “The numbers of very experienced and long-standing drivers who have left or are leaving the trade is unprecedented.

“The drivers have put their lives at risk to supply transport through the pandemic and we have seen business slump to an all time low.”