Taxi firms are campaigning against a “discriminatory” rule requiring all new vehicles to be wheelchair-accessible - claiming it will force some drivers out of work.
Sharon Shaw of PJ Cabs has launched a petition saying South Gloucestershire Council’s policy, in place from April 2019, had been voted through with “total disregard for the drivers, the passengers and the market”.
She said the move will force up prices and warned hailing a cab from the side of the road could become a “thing of the past”.
Ms Shaw said: “The market for wheelchair access in South Gloucestershire is limited and the percentage of cars that are wheelchair accessible already far exceeds the percentage of wheelchair reliant users.
“As a collective, we believe this change to policy is discriminatory for so many reasons, not least for disabled drivers, who, in many circumstances will be unable to manage a heavy wheelchair thus forcing them out of work.
“These forced changes will lead to much higher fares in South Gloucestershire - how many Hackney [cabs] actually add the extras for cases, animals, numbers of passengers, etc? Many reduce the metered fare to the nearest 50 pence or pound. This would all need to change.
“Disabilities come in many guises, not just wheelchair reliant customers.
“Far more elderly and infirm customers request saloon cars, than prospective wheelchair customers requesting a wheelchair-accessible vehicle. this decision will be discriminatory against them.
“In South Gloucestershire, the number of Hackney carriages is already far lower than the number of private hire vehicles.
“With this new rule penalising Hackney drivers, the percentage will drop much further and in an already rural county, hailing a cab from the rank or roadside will become a thing of the past.”
A South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson said: “The new policy was considered and agreed at the council’s regulatory committee following public consultation with specific questions relating to wheelchair accessibility.
“This policy was given a great deal of consideration by the Committee who took in to account all views expressed in reaching their decision.
“The policy applies to Hackney carriages that are being licensed for the first time from April 1, 2019. It does not apply to the private hire vehicles operating in the district.”
The petition can be viewed at https://petitions.southglos.gov.uk/consult.ti/system/viewPetition?petitionid=13802.
A petition calling for Erewash cabbies to be allowed to have fully-tinted windows in their taxis has been rejected over fears that vehicles could be used to enable the abuse of vulnerable children and adults.