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Are You Aware of the New Statutory Duties for the Carriage of Disabled Persons?

New Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Accessibility Legislation came into force in recent months. Industry experts are describing it as the biggest change in over a decade. As an operator and/or driver are you aware of the new rights disabled people have when travelling by taxi or private hire vehicle?

The new legislation came into force on June 28th of this year. It applies to England, Scotland and Wales. It introduces new requirements and amends existing elements of the Equality Act 2010 relating to the carriage of disabled persons. The intention is to improve confidence for disabled persons and reduce the risk of discrimination.

The Equality Act 2010 already banned operators and private hire drivers from refusing to accept a booking because the passenger would need to be accompanied by an assistance dog. The new measures will now also prevent the declinature of a booking based on a passenger’s impairment and charging extra for providing assistance will also be prohibited.

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Disabled people that rely on the services of taxi and private hire drivers more than most clearly should not be discriminated against. It is hoped that following the implementation of the new requirements, other disabled passengers will now receive the same level of protection that visually impaired and wheelchair users are currently afforded.

The Taxis & Private Hire Vehicles (Disabled Persons) Act 2022 includes a raft of new obligations for licensing authorities and licence-holders.

For Licence-Holders changes include…

The overarching requirement for all to provide mobility assistance and avoid fare increases for the carriage of disabled persons has been expanded in the following ways:

Private Hire Operators and Bookings

Operators are required to accept bookings in respect of any disabled person provided a suitable vehicle is available. A failure to comply is an offence punishable by a maximum fine of £1000.

Hackney Carriage Drivers, Private Hire Drivers & Carriage

Drivers are required to provide carriage to any disabled person alongside mobility assistance and transportation of mobility aids. Where requested, a driver should also identify the vehicle. A failure to comply is an offence punishable by a maximum fine of £1000.

For licensing authorities changes include…

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) Lists

All licensing authorities are required to collate, maintain and publish a list of hackney carriage and private hire vehicles which are designated WAV. This should also identify drivers subject to WAV duties (incl. mobility assistance and fare limits). Licence-holders entered on the list should be notified and broader awareness of its existence should be made dear to disabled persons.

Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver Exemption

All licensing authorities will be able to offer an exemption for hackney carriage and private drivers on medical grounds. This will however, only cover mobility assistance.

The Department for Transport has also updated its ‘Access to Taxis & Private Hire Vehicles for Disabled Users’ statutory guidance in order to assist licensing authorities and indirectly licence-holders. It offers a useful insight as to how regulators should approach the application, and administration, of these duties.

Leading taxi licensing lawyer and founder of specialist firm Travis Morley, Neil Morley describes the changes as the biggest amendment to the legislation regarding the carriage of disabled persons in 12 years. He comments, “Undoubtedly, it is important for operators to be aware of these requirements and, if not done so already, take reasonable steps to ensure compliance.” Travis Morley will be happy to have a discussion with you if have been affected by any Taxi Licensing Law matters.

It’s very important that both operators and drivers take the necessary time to familiarise themselves with the new requirements. Ultimately adherence with The Taxis & Private Hire Vehicles (Disabled Persons) Act 2022 will avoid unnecessary fines whilst also serving to further enhance the industry’s reputation with the disabled community.

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