Taxis in York

We were recently asked how taxis in York work, or don’t work, for the disability community. This is what you told us. Primarily wheelchair users responded to us so the comments mainly reflect that experience. We are anecdotely aware that blind and visually impaired people find taxis very useful.

There was one good experience reported: Streamline were great and often squeezed them in, even when Streamline were really busy. As this person got to know the WAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle) drivers, they were able to build up a good rapport with them. It was also reported that the electric london cabs are good.

However, most people had negative responses and there seem to be some key themes:

  • Unreliable: Not being able to rely on the services means building in failure and back ups
  • Unavailable: Lack of available wheelchair vehicles, especially at certain points when there can be none available on a regular basis
  • Attitudes from drivers and the call handlers
  • The vehicles themselves
  • Booking: Having to book further in advance than non disabled people and not being able to book online

Unreliable

“I have a powerchair which I use independently, and a manual chair which requires someone to push me as I can’t self propel, this means unless my destination includes meeting someone or travelling with someone, I have to travel in my powerchair.” (Note, direct quotes only used where we have clear permission)

“However, it’s difficult to book a powerchair accessible taxi and I’ve had so many cancel on me at the last minute that I can’t rely on them to travel. This means I have to build into my plans enough time to panic and get to my destination another way, or only book taxis when I can cancel my plans.”

Another person told us about how sometimes they’d get told the wheelchair taxi was no longer available and they’d send a standard car.

Agreeing to bookings without appropriate vehicles being available has led to people being late to appointments or having to cancel them.

Unavailable

Wheelchair accessible taxis seem to be entirely unavailable during the school run. This affects people’s ability to use taxi’s to get to and from work. One of our members feels this was a key factor in her having to stop working. Further, if she got to work ok, she wasn’t always able to get home – a taxi cancelling on her at the end of the day left her stranded a number of times.

Further to the lack of available wheelchair accessible taxis during the school run, there are also not many running at night and they require prebooking. This means you have to decide, before you go out for a drink or whatever, when you want to return home. Non disabled people don’t have to do that, they can turn up at a taxi rank and know they will get home. The lack of security about whether the taxi will turn up adds anxiety to a night out and means some people book a return journey home earlier than they’d like, to allow for it not to turn up and then having to frantically ring round and see if any taxi company can get me home.

At peak points such as Saturday nights, our members have also been told that they can’t book an accessible taxi as the call handler didn’t know if any would be available.

Attitudes

Taxi drivers, when making polite conversation, tend to ask inappropriate questions such as what did you do or what’s wrong with you. 

One member used to travel to London by train in a powerchair and when booking for 5am or 6am, she’d get comments about it being really early and what was she doing up at that time. Her husband does not get those comments when booking for taxis for his own trips to the train station early in the morning. He doesn’t use a wheelchair.

On other occasions, it has also been assumed that she wouldn’t need an accessible taxi because it was so early. Sending an inappropriate taxi meant she has nearly missed her train, meaning she has to book taxis earlier to allow for errors.

Assumptions about wheelchairs themselves have meant people are refused a trip – eg a folding taxi was assumed to be not folding, or drivers refusing to lift a wheelchair into the boot.

Someone told us about a driver who had claimed to know better than the disabled person themselves and manouvered their leg in a way that caused significant pain. The driver then huffed and puffed about how long it took to get them in.

The call handlers have been rude to a number of our members – telling one that it was her fault they couldn’t get a vehicle to her as she hadn’t told them her needs when she had. Another reported having to ring repeatedly to ask where her taxi was when it was half an hour late and being made to feel like a pain for calling.

The vehicles themselves

A carer for a child with complex needs told us that the child won’t sit in the front of a taxi with a stranger (the driver) but as the parent is a wheelchair user and most accessible taxis only have space for the wheelchair user in the rear. This means they have to book very far in advance to get a much larger vehicle. This is also an issue for disabled parents who have very young children who need to be within reach of the parent.

The minibus style taxis have a little plastic step which is reported to be of little help.


What are your experiences with taxis and disability in York? Let us know in the comments.

3 thoughts on “Taxis in York”

  1. Some taxi boots are small often needing to fold the back seats down to get my wheelchair in. More of a problem sitting my carer next to the folded down seat. Had a few taxi’s I’ve said I have a very large fold up wheelchair. They send a car only have to ask for another to come with a larger boot

  2. I have tried to book wheelchair taxis (powered scooter), 4 different companies, to and from the station for a recent trip abroad via London. No Company in York will pre-book a taxi for me. I have tried ringing from KX to book 2 hours in front and and even a 1/2 hour but they can’t/won’t organise one. I have done this a number of times now and there is always an excuse. Is this because they are now kept specifically for city access from the car park? LNER ramps for train access are also a problem, even though pre-booked weeks in advance I have only managed a 50% success rate of a ramp meeting the train despite correspondence with a Director at Skeldergate. The lack of city centre access for the disabled is an absolute disgrace and how can the Council get away with it under the Disability Discrimination Act. It’s about time there was some enforcement of these regulations for all of us but I guess this would be down to CYC so unlikely to do anything as with all the other problems they don’t want to know about – buses using Skeldergate as a “rat run”, disgraceful pavements for wheelchair users etc.

    1. Thanks for the comments.

      In termsw of the taxis – there was a few months in 2020 where one or two taxis were being used to get disabled people from a specific car park to a specific drop off point in the city however this is no longer the case. In terms of booking taxis, we’re incredibly aware of the issues when it comes to wheelchair accessible vehicles and have fedback to the taxi operators and the council about the lack of availability, being unable to book etc.

      With the trains, personally I’ve had so many bad experiences across all operators unfortunately and personally know the impact in has on a person and on the journey you’re trying to undertake – I get incredibly stressed if I have to take a train. Transport for All – https://www.transportforall.org.uk/ – are doing work on various aspects of travelling as a disabled person and are led by disabled people. Whilst there is still a long way to go, there are people trying to get us there.

      Thanks for you comments

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