Wednesday 13 December 2017

Number of wheelchair accessible taxis on Irish roads drops by almost 40pc

An estimated 600,000 people in Ireland live with disabilities
An estimated 600,000 people in Ireland live with disabilities
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

The number of wheelchair accessible taxis on Irish roads has decreased by almost 40pc since 2008, according to new figures released by the National Transport Authority (NTA).

Only 5pc of Irish licensed taxis are wheelchair accessible while CSO figures report that 13pc of the Irish population have a disability. 

The NTA said it is focusing on increasing the number of accessible taxis by restricting new licences to only wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

They also plan to ease the size specifications required for a licence to bring the entry costs down, and to provide more grant-aid schemes.

“The new regulation only gives licences to wheelchair accessible taxis so they are increasing,” said President of the Irish Taxi Drivers Federation Joe Heron.

“They’re much more expensive to maintain than a saloon taxi because servicing is more expensive.”

“Other than the UK nowhere else has a higher percentage but they will increase in Ireland because of the new legislation.”

In London, meanwhile, Uber have invested more than £1m to launch their first wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

The vehicles, available from 4pm on Tuesday, are equipped with a rear-entry ramp, winch and restraints, enabling a wheelchair user to travel with one additional passenger.

The company said the ‘uberWAV’ option will cost the same as the standard ‘uberX’ fare.

It expects waiting times in the first few weeks to be around 25 minutes in central London and 40 minutes on the outskirts of the capital.

Tom Elvidge, Uber's general manager in the capital, said: "We're proud to be making one of the biggest ever investments in accessible private hire in London and will be working hard to keep waiting times as low as possible as the service expands."

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