Lack of accessible taxis just 'another stress' for disabled passengers
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Fewer than one in five taxis and private hire vehicles in Ipswich are wheelchair-friendly - adding to the stress already experienced by disabled people living in the town.
Pat Ramsey, manager of the Ipswich Disabled Advice Bureau manager, said there are so many other issues in the daily life of people living with disabilities that this hurdle is not even the biggest one they face.
She explained that most people they support struggle with the cost of a taxi, while some find it difficult to work out how to book transport for things like occasional hospital appointments.
"Disabled people find with some taxi companies you need an account to book in advance but that does not work if you only need it every so often."
She said using buses and trains was not always an option either for some people with mobility issues.
"There is a lot of logistics for people with disabilities you and I would never think of and there is likely to be more people unable to walk far and unable to use their car post-Covid."
She added that there is also a long-standing issue with Ipswich train station that stops taxis coming forward to pick up disabled passengers, leading to long waits.
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"Ipswich taxis tried to stop [the rank] being narrowed," she said. "But weren't successful."
Independent taxi driver Alan Finlay said he knows it's "a nightmare" to book taxis in advance in Ipswich for clients from the big firms, and instead those with disabilities rely on him.
He said: "About 95% of my clients are people with disabilities."
Department for Transport figures show 524 vehicles were licensed to operate in Ipswich at the end of March – but just 88 (17%) could be used by those in a wheelchair.
Of the 155 traditional taxis which can be hailed from the street, only 52 - which makes up 34% of those vehicles - were wheelchair accessible and 36 - just 10% - of the area's 369 private hire vehicles, which need to be pre-booked, offered the same service.