It’s fair to say that, what with my dad and his three brothers all having taxi licenses, I have grown up believing that London black cabs are the best mode of transport in the world. However, I have since discovered from using a wheelchair full time that this is not true. I don’t want to take jobs off my family so by all means please use them if you’re able bodied. I’m just reiterating the point (I’ve said it before: http://theadventuresofwheelchairboy.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/more-taxi-problems.html) that taxis are not accessible in the real meaning of the word and are far from suitable for wheelchair users.
I mean the only way that there would not be a problem is if the person is below 4 foot in height when sitting down (otherwise you have to crane your neck for the whole journey) and has a small, compact wheelchair. Definitely cannot fit an electric chair in, especially if there are other passengers such as a carer. Even then, you need to find the rarest breed of cab driver. One that is not completely bone idle and is not afraid to help others. As you can imagine, I’ve met a few in my time and most just cannot be bothered with a disabled passenger.
The majority of drivers are reluctant to pick a wheelchair up in the first place because getting a ramp out requires effort and taxi driving is all about earning money without raising a finger (I suppose that’s why I’m quite lazy). For example, I knew about the difficulties in a standard cab so when I went to visit Madame Tussauds earlier in the year, I went over to a Mercedes Vito as I thought it would be easier. The driver told me to go and wait at the rank before driving off. The same happened in St. Albans: the driver took one look at my wheelchair and made up some excuse about why he couldn’t take me.
On both occasions, the person who did eventually take me did not bother to strap me in securely. OK, it was not far but you’d still wear a seatbelt on a short car journey so the same should apply to clamping a wheelchair. Like I said though, cab drivers are extremely lazy so I suppose I am lucky when one picks me up, let alone bothering to strap me in.
My main message (apart from slagging off taxi drivers) is that service providers, whether that be Transport For London or local councils, will claim that all taxis with ramps are wheelchair accessible but as I’ve explained, they’re simply not. The website http://www.cabdirect.com demonstrates my point. Cab Direct sells thousands of new and used taxis but the fact it has a specialist section for wheelchair accessible vehicles shows that most taxis are not in fact wheelchair friendly.
Bye for now!