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Government ministers have urged councils across Britain to act on new guidance to help improve the accessibility of taxis and mini cabs.

Currently, taxis and private hire vehicles are regulated by local licensing authorities and in new guidance from the government, published on 17th November 2023, it has been stated that councils must take action against drivers who discriminate against people with disabilities and guide dog owners, issuing fines and suspending licenses where required. Private Hire Vehicles are also encouraged to identify accessibility needs before they take a booking, so that an appropriate vehicle is provided. The new guidance also states that councils should incentivise the uptake of wheelchair accessible vehicles and ensure that they can be used easily and safely by a range of passengers. Some wheelchair accessible vehicles may not be suitable for other disabled passengers and when issuing licences, councils should ensure that there are a mix of vehicles to suit their community.

Gup Opperman, Minister for Roads, said: “Disabled people rely on taxi and private hire vehicles services and it’s unacceptable for people to be unlawfully discriminated against when travelling. It is vital these services cater for disabled people’s needs and local authorities should take action now to ensure drivers and operators understand their duties so everyone can travel with confidence.”

The guidance also recommends:

Training and assessing drivers with a focus on recognising the impact of speeding or driving while distracted or fatigued.

Removing undue burdens, including Private Hire Vehicle drivers should not be required to undertake navigational skills tests for pre booked journeys, while licencing fees should be reviewed regularly to ensure they are appropriate.

Action to be taken against operators who do not meet standards to protect passengers with disabilities

Department for Transport to launch further call for evidence on passengers’ accessibility needs in taxis and PHVs.

A spokesperson for the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee said: “DPTAC welcomes this new best practice guidance, particularly the much greater emphasis on making taxi and PHV services more accessible to disabled people. We hope that this will see licensing authorities addressing the barriers that hinder disabled people using taxis and PHVs, including a rapid reduction in the 38% of authorities that do not make disability awareness training mandatory for drivers. We have been pleased to work with Department for Transport in the production of this guidance and will continue to press for more steps to make taxis and PHVs more accessible.”