We often take the ability to move within our community for granted, but for our friends and families with a disability, even the smallest of steps can prevent them from accessing parts of their life. That’s why wheelchair accessible travel should be a priority for everyone – regardless of whether or not they are able-bodied. It can mean the difference between making it to the supermarket to buy groceries or staying home. Wheelchair accessible taxisare a huge part of creating an inclusive community
Obviously, not all taxis are accessible. It simply isn’t practical for a person in a wheelchair to be expected to leave their chair to sit in the car seat, and then unfold their chairs when they get to their destination. Often this isn’t possible at all. That’s why there is a set of requirements that a taxi must have before it can call itself accessible.
Floor Space –A certain amount of space must be allocated for people in a wheelchair, and it’s more than that of an able-bodied person. Once the wheel their chair into the taxi, they need at least 1.3 metres in length, 80 centimetres in width, and 1.5 metres in height. This amount of space doesn’t change depending on the amount of people in wheelchairs in the taxi – that is, they all need the same amount of space regardless of how many people are there.
Wheelchair Restraints –Once inside the vehicle, the chair must be securely tied down at four points. If the car can carry more than one chair, then it needs to have four restraints for each person it can carry. That means, if the vehicle can carry two wheelchairs, there need to be eight restraints available at all times. They also have to be free from faying and knots.
Occupant Restraints – It isn’t enough to tie down the chair, people need seatbelts too. There are two options here: a lap and sash retractor, like in a standard car; or a lap and harness type. A simple lash seatbelt, like the ones that the middle backseat used to have in older cars, won’t do.
Hoists and Ramps –These are absolutely critical for wheelchair accessible taxis; otherwise how will their passengers get in the car. Hoists must be securely mounted to the car and have skid resistant surfaces. Ramps need to be at least 80 centimetres wide (just like the floor space requirement) and need to have a gentle slope.
How to Book
Booking wheelchair accessible taxis is easy. Simply call the service, the way you would with any other booking, and specifically request an accessible option. In Australia, while each company has its own number, you can reach any of them by calling 13 CABS (131 008).
Because people with mobility difficulties rely so much more on taxis than able-bodied people, state governments subsidise their trips. For instance, in Victoria passengers only pay 50% of the total fare (up to the value of $60).
The ability to access all areas of our community should not be limited to those who can walk. Often, it can be difficult – emotionally and physically – to rely on family and friends for help with day-to-day tasks, which is why wheelchair accessible vehiclesare so important. Whether you’re in a chair, or you’re able-bodied, this guide should help you know exactly what you’ll be getting when you book a taxi, and what the drivers will be doing to keep you safe.