People with disabilities may see an increase in taxis in East Renfrewshire following a decision by the council to waive application fees for wheelchair accessible taxis.
The licencing committee has taken the decision in a bid to improve the number of wheelchair-accessible vehicles on the road.
While the news has been welcomed by campaigners who lobbied the council last year for more accessible transport, they say the decision doesn’t go far enough in terms of attracting more accessible taxis to the area.
Chris Baird, of East Renfrewshire Disability Action (ERDA) said: “We support the [waiver] but we feel that this measure alone does not go anyway near far enough in addressing this issue.
The lack of wheelchair accessible taxis in East Renfrewshire is a barrier that is preventing disabled people from fully participating and contributing in our local communities.”
ERDA issued a survey last year to interested parties including those in care homes, housing association tenants and retirement homes.
ERDA chair Michael McEwan said: “Last year, the council confirmed that there was only one black hack licensed in the whole of East Renfrewshire. Private cars and ordinary hackneys can fit some wheelchairs but it’s a squeeze, especially if there is more than one passenger.
He added: “It’s very uncomfortable and often involves manhandling passengers into or out of the cab.
“Whenever they do need a properly adapted one, many have to call a Glasgow city wheelchair accessible hackney company, which can involve an extra charge.”
The Extra got behind the campaign with a story highlighting their plight (The only black cab in the village not enough, October 16, 2014).
The council has set itself a target to see 10 per cent of cabs on the road having wheelchair access by the end of this year.
The trial scheme will be assessed after a year to see if there has been an improvement on the number of wheelchair-accessible cars on East Renfrewshire’s roads.
Also, anyone submitting a ‘change of car’ licence — which also carries a fee — will not have to pay if their replacement vehicle is wheelchair accessible.
Taxi licence application fees are £147 for a year-long licence, £295 for two and £354 for a three-year licence.
For private hire cars, the fees are £132 for a one-year application, £265 for two and £316 for three years.