21 September 2016
From today, Wednesday 21 September, DVS (Driver and Vehicle Standards) will be licencing more wheelchair accessible vehicles to operate from public taxi ranks.
DVS are initially issuing ten ‘purple plates’ to private hire wheelchair accessible taxis, which will allow them to use the public ranks. These will supplement the existing wheelchair accessible rank taxis that are already operating, bringing the total to 26.
This is the first wave of taxi-cabs to get this ‘purple plate’ accreditation, but more will follow as more drivers come forward with wheelchair accessible vehicles, until the Minister for Infrastructure Deputy Eddie Noel's current target of 20% of all taxi-cabs to have wheelchair accessible vehicles is reached across the industry.
These vehicles, when picking up at a public rank, will be required to charge the same as any other public rank taxi.
Deputy Noel, has recently made orders to formalise the required standards for accessible and wheelchair accessible taxi-cabs. These orders specify the equipment which will eventually be required to make all taxi-cabs more accessible. These measures are often simple aids, such as high visibility tape on door thresholds and handles to assist the visually impaired, additional door straps to assist customers to lower themselves into seats or swivel cushions, which can be placed on seats to help customers turn and draw their legs into the vehicle. All vehicles will be required to carry such equipment by January 2019.
To ensure that travellers with disabilities are properly supported, the drivers that provide these new facilities will be required to complete comprehensive accessibility training and customer care courses. The first wave of drivers to complete this are the new purple plate holders.
Deputy Noel said “I think it is important that people who need accessible and wheelchair accessible taxis can get one when they need one. We are increasing the numbers available to enable this to happen.”
In the near future, DVS will also be establishing part-time taxi ranks which will be operational at peak times late at night on weekends to cater for the demand from those going home from pubs, restaurants and clubs. Any taxi-cab (rank or private hire) will be able to use these new part-time ranks.