We need more Wheelchair Accessible Taxis!

Abigail passed a call in Parliament for the NSW Govt to improve the availability of Wheelchair Accessible Taxis (WATs) across our state. 

Abigail moved: 

(1) That this House notes that:

(a) taxis are an essential form of point to point transport for many people with disability, many of whom rely exclusively on wheelchair-accessible taxis [WATs] to get around in their daily lives;

(b) several concerns have been raised in relation to major systemic issues within the taxi system, particularly with the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme [TTSS], WATs and the associated booking system, and using interstate dockets, including by Spinal Cord Injuries Australia [SCIA], the Physical Disability Council of NSW [PDCN], People with Disability Australia [PWDA], the Public Interest Advocacy Centre [PIAC] and the NSW Taxi Council;

(c) according to data collected by PDCN in February 2023:

(i)there is clear evidence that the point to point transport network is not meeting the needs of people with disability;

(ii)industry practices are actively discouraging people with disability from using taxis and participating in society;

(iii)there has been a clear declining trend in customer service across the industry which appears to correlate with several regulatory changes in the point to point transport system;

(iv)88 per cent of people surveyed prefer to use the smartcard over paper dockets;

(v)for those who use the smartcard, 66 per cent reported problems using it, which mostly related to drivers purportedly not knowing how to process the card or wanting to use dockets as a preference;

(vi)drivers do not appear to understand how to use the smartcard on their payment terminals, which along with a lack of practical knowledge of how to process the cards has caused frustration for both passengers and drivers;

(vii)users of WATs are increasingly concerned about the unreliability of these services, which is likely due to lack of vehicles and WAT operators within the broader taxi fleet and the decreasing availability of these vehicles for those who need them; and

(viii)30 per cent of those surveyed in the past 12 months had experienced booking a WAT that never turned up, and nearly 25 per cent of participants had waited more than two hours for a booked taxi to arrive.

(d) SCIA and PDCN have called on the Government to:

(i)organise a high-level round table between Transport for NSW, the Point to Point Commission, the Taxi Council, 13cabs, WAT operators and WAT users to discuss methods to dramatically improve taxi service provision for all people with disability;

(ii)remove any costs associated with the Cabcharge payment terminal for using the TTSS smartcard, and ensure that the smartcard is cost neutral for taxi service providers;

(iii)make a commitment that Transport for NSW will review incentives for WAT licences and no-interest loans for WAT vehicles;

(iv)ensure that smartcard implementation occurs in full across the entire fleet of WATs in New South Wales and is paired with appropriate education to ensure all drivers and operators understand how to use it;

(v)enforce appropriate oversight, enforcement and penalties by the Point to Point Commissioner for noncompliance of the WAT licence, including in relation to operation of the vehicle and wheelchair restraints and conduct of all drivers;

(vi)make a commitment that Transport for NSW will implement the recommendations of the Point to Point Independent Review 2020, and the recommendations of the Inquiry into Operation of the Point to Point Transport (Taxis and Hire Vehicles) Act 2016;

(vii)provide additional incentives for drivers to take on WATs to increase the WAT fleet, particularly in limited markets;

(viii)create and enforce a single streamlined central booking system across the whole State; and

(ix)nationalise the interstate WAT booking system.

(2) That this House calls on the Government to continue working closely with the disability sector, point to point industry and other levels of government to improve the availability of WATs across New South Wales.

Read the full transcript in Hansard here.

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