Monday, May 13, 2013

Disabled account users feeling ‘frightened and unsafe’ after problems with minicabs on Taxicard scheme

Disabled TaxiCard passengers in Harrow who have specifically asked for a Black cab are complaining, despite frequent requests for Taxis, they are still  sent cars.
Taxicard scheme user Brenda from Sudbury Town, suffers from Arthritis and Fibrosis. She has great difficulty getting in and out of cars. When she phones ComCab on the TaxiCard account, she always asks for a Taxi.

But for months now, they have only been sending her cars. Her friend Maureen said "I thought it was illegal for minicabs to advertise a Taxi service, they can't use the word Taxi or cab in adverts, my friend is a Taxi driver and he told me its against the law. If they don't supply a Taxi, then they should be made to change the name of this scheme to MinicabCard."

Brenda said "The only way you can get a real Taxi on this scheme, is to flag down a ComCab and then let them swipe your card. My brother, a proper London Cabby, told me local Harrow drivers lost out big time when ComCab was sold to a minicab firm. He was on ComCab for years, but left soon after the take over. He's on this Hailo phone app thing now. It's better for him, but us poor sods have to use these bloody minicabs, we got no choice."

Brenda also said, "I recently had a course of treatment at Harefield  Hospital. I phoned ComCab and told them I needed a Taxi because of my arthritis. But when the transport turned up, it was a minicab. Its not right treating us like this."

Fellow TaxiCard user Yvonne, also from Sudbury said "Taxis always went the best way and you knew exactly what the fare was, it was on the meter. Worst of all, these minicab drivers keep taking their eyes off the road to look at their video thingy telling them the way to go. One driver told me he regularly does 12-14 hour shifts, now that can't be safe. I used to love talking to the Taxi drivers but these minicabs frighten the life out of me."

And it's not just in Harrow. Below is an article from the Ilford Recorder:
Evelyn Jones, of Tudor Crescent, regularly used her Taxicard – a discounted travel service for people with serious mobility impairment – until recently after private hire vehicles (PHVs) were introduced.
The scheme, run by London Councils and funded by Transport for London, included PHVs three months ago. But many users struggle to get into normal cars.
Evelyn’s daughter, Linda, 62, said: “My mother has rheumatism and gout in both her legs and is unable to bend her knees. She can’t really walk unaided.
“Low-down minicabs really cause her, like many of her friends, a problem – she just can’t get in.
“She is used to getting picked up in black cabs which she recognises and trusts and are designed for those with mobility problems. She feels safe in them.”
Linda added: “I have informed them but it hasn’t made a difference.
“It is just so wrong to ask an elderly or infirm person to try to get in a car that isn’t suitable. It is preventing her from going out.
“My mother feels frightened when using minicabs as police are always warning them just to use black cabs.”
Janet Poole, 66, of New North Road, Hainault, has suffered the same problem.
She said: “I think it is ridiculous to ask those with mobility issues to use cars that aren’t suitable.
“I have a mobility scooter, and like many, need help when using transport – which many minicab drivers are not used to dealing with.”
A spokesman for London Councils said: “It is a contractual requirement of the scheme to increase the number of vehicles available to members and to reduce the cost of travel. We provide our contractor with details of any members who can travel in either a taxi only, a PHV vehicle only or both, therefore safeguarding individuals’ needs.”
Editorial comment:
The Taxi trade has stood by and watched the TaxiCard disabled account, once referred to as the jewel in the NHS transportation crown, evolve into a major minicab account. Is this an example of TfL pushing work towards an over subscribe private hire trade at the expense of suburban drivers, in order to keep the license fees rolling in?

At the drivers expense, a Licensed Taxi has to be wheelchair accessible, have a working ramp, special seat belts to accommodate and secure a wheelchair and a special disable swivel seat. After all this extra expense, TfL give the disabled account work over to private hire. It's an insult to the whole Taxi trade. 

How can it be right for Boris to spend £200 million of our money on his folly, of a new over priced hybrid bus and then TfL scrapes the barrel when it comes to the needs of disabled Londoners. 
Each one of these 600 buses will go on costing an extra £60k (£36m a year) to pay for the extra staff needed, whose only role will be to ring the bell.
And also, lets not forget the £124 million spent on the Boris bike scheme, a scheme that Paris got fully subsidised by the commercial sector which didn't cost the Parisian tax payers a single cent.


Veritas said...

We are led to understand Computer Cab runs this scheme that seems to default to using minicabs wherever possible. Can anyone confirm this?

We are also understand that the manager Mr Paice is a member of the Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers (WCHCD), Is this correct?

We are also led to understand that Mr Paice is also not actually a Green or Yellow Badge holder, is this correct and can anyone join WCHCD?

We also understand that Computer Cab when partly owned by the LTDA also carried out this practice of sending a minicab in the first instance, can anyone confirm this?

These are not accusations but a request for clarification so we are in possession of the facts.

Anonymous said...

Having to watch and hear about the continuing demise of the cab trade does indeed break my heart
My only personal solitude is the fact that I am in my twilight years in the trade but I do have serious concerns for the younger drivers - and not so young - plus those currently on The Knowledge
All these "goings on" and not one word of protest, demonstration or criticism from the LCDC, Unite or the LTDA
At times I compare the state of our trade with that of mass immigration and sooner rather than later-both bubbles will burst and by then no doubt the leaders of the above trade organisations will have stacked away their ill gotten gains and retired into the sunset clapping each other on the back saying what a wonderful job the did.

Anonymous said...

Although I have lost all my original niave faith in the ltda and com cab I am a huge fan of the taxicard scheme and basically go to work to cover these jobs. (Best make it clear I'm a sector 6 + ext 1 yellow badge!)

I am not defending the company but feel that a little perspective is due.

A lot of the problems caused are due to drivers who were forced to join the radio circuits by the declining street work in the ressesion not wanting to do this work. Despite the rules which state clearly that all drivers are obliged to cover all accounts, a large portion don't want to be bothered with low steps, swivel seats, wheelchair ramps and carrying shopping....especially if its raining.
There are ways of dodging allocated jobs if you are techno savvy, so the other accounts are often cherry picked, and those who aren't as savvy turn the radio off in the rain.
It's hard but rewarding work for a yb being the only way you can access work without having to return to a rank and therefore earn a gb type wage, but too many drivers are dodging this work because they never wanted it.
Don't underestimate the huge embarrasment this causes us willing drivers (and I dare say the company) when they are forced to send a ph driver who also refuses to assist or make himself useful in any way, doesn't know the appropriate route, and become rude and aggressive if they are questioned or asked to help (obviously assistance is a pre requisite in disability transport). They are only used because they are willing to turn up, but even the worst taxi driver would be streets ahead if they would turn up.
I'm sad to say that I've been hearing these complaints for years now and the only way to combat it is for comcab to fix the loopholes in their job acceptance system or drivers who use these tecnuques of avoidence to be removed from the circuit and replaced with drivers who are willing to cover ALL acounts at ALL times when they are working! Not just the dry patches.

There are of course a large portion of drivers who bend over backwards for these accounts and do a tremendous amount of good work which elevates us way above the PH SHAMBLES which are sent to cover our work and unravel the reputation of our whole trade.

So hate or despise them, its not comcab, but a small percentage of greedy and self serving taxi drivers who are causing this disgraceful reflection on our trade.

Flash Bristow said...

I've found the only way around this problem is to put it on record that I have a non-folding wheelchair which I wish to stay in for the journey (and this is often the case, but occasionally I go on crutches). My account is now marked that I should only be sent black cabs. However there aren't enough of them, and so I can be waiting ages if I call to book one, so nowadays I tend to only use my taxicard when I can get a taxi from a rank, which is a shame.

Anonymous said...

Where did my perfectly legitamate and genuine answer to these questions go?

Was it ignored because it was deemed to be the work of a comfortdelgro sabateur or did it just not fit your agenda?

If its the first I'm happy to stand behind my comments and provide my badge number 3****

If its the second then I shall accept your editorial descision, but I'd appreciate an acknowledgement.

Editorial said...

Anon 4:15
Your original post made an unsubstantiated, sweeping generalisation about the trade as a whole.
We get enough bad press in the media without creating our own.
While your accusations may have been applicable many years ago, at present with the over population of the suburban sectors, this is no longer the case.

Anonymous said...

Your not the first to call me a dinosaur, just the first to do it with style!

Thanks for the courteousy, and although we must agree to differ on my original point, I think your willingness to answer speaks volumes as to why Taxi leaks is the stand out site in this genre.

Anonymous said...

Computer Cab can not specifie the type of taxi that will arrive.

Anonymous said...

You have to be disabled and a single female to feel the effects of this change to taxi card.Twice recently I booked the day before for a dentists appointnent.i explained it was an urgent appointment.Both times it was late.I nearly lost my appointments. Now I use a local mini cab firm.i was once collected by mini cab on taxi card scheme.during my return trip the driver explained to me how he had beaten up someone and nearly strangled him.I was so frightened. I wouldn't report this.That driver knows where I live.