Your Rights when Travelling in a Taxi or Minicab
One of the most common questions we are asked is ‘what are my rights when I take a taxi or minicab?’
So we put together a checklist you can use to make sure you are being treated fairly. Feel free to print it out if it helps.
DTACS Taxi and Minicab Passenger Checklist
Use this checklist to make sure you are being treated fairly:
Price, Taxis – (known in law as Hackney Carriages)
- The meter in a taxi (hackney carriage) starts when the journey starts, not when you are being assisted in to the vehicle.
- The meter in a taxi (hackney carriage) stops when the vehicle stops. The driver can then assist you out of the vehicle and to your destination. There must be no charge for this assistance.
- The meter must start from the correct rate – ask to see the tariff chart to make sure a higher rate is not being used. For example, if the day rate is tariff 1, you should see a 1 displayed on the meter.
- When hiring a taxi on a rank, ask the driver for an estimate before you set off. If you can, check this against the tariff chart. A taxi can only charge the rate shown on the tariff if the journey is within the local district area.
- If the journey goes outside of the district taxi drivers can ask for more or refuse to carry you.
- There is no charge for assistance dogs.
- There is no soiling charge for an assistance dog that sheds some fur or hair.
- The driver must let your assistance dog sit with you if you want it to. The dog should sit on the floor.
Price, Minicabs – (known in law as Private Hire Vehicles)
- When booking a minicab:
Ask for a quote from the company.
Ask if they will sub-contract the booking to a taxi.
If they say they will sub-contract the booking (this is fairly common), do not agree a fare that is higher than the taxi tariff would allow.
- There should be no extra charge applied by the company if a person who travels in their wheelchair books a fully wheelchair accessible vehicle – all customers should pay the same rate for the same type of vehicle from that particular company.
For example, if a journey from Star Cars, going from A to B costs £10 for one passenger who does not use a wheelchair, the same journey from the same company should also cost £10 for one passenger who does use a wheelchair.
- If you are told that the minicab will use a meter to charge you (this is legal in many areas) then the same rules apply for when the meter goes on and off as with taxis. The meter is started when the journey begins and is switched off when the journey ends. Loading and unloading should not be charged.
- The driver must make sure you are safe and secure before driving – this is his legal responsibility.
- A wheelchair must be properly secured using the correct equipment– just using the brake is not enough.
- If you are worried about the condition of the wheelchair restraint system you should speak to the driver about this before the journey begins.
- The driver must make sure you are wearing the correct seatbelts.
- Unless you have requested a fully wheelchair accessible vehicle you should not have to wait for any longer than any other passenger would – do not put up with being told that a driver must be found to carry your assistance dog. All vehicles can do this. Almost all will be able to carry a fold up wheelchair.
- The driver must not use a mobile phone whilst driving.
- The driver must take the shortest or quickest route unless you have asked to go a certain way.
If a driver refuses to take you, this may be a criminal offence as well as discrimination. Take details if possible and report this to the correct licensing authority.
A driver can only refuse if he has reasonable grounds to do so. Drivers cannot refuse to carry assistance dogs without a valid exemption certificate.
- Not all vehicles can carry all designs of wheelchair. However, if the driver says that the ramps are not working or that they do not know how to use them, you should take the driver or vehicle details and report this for investigation (more on how to do this below). Sadly not all councils require drivers to be fully trained but your report will make a difference in changing this.
- Make sure you know which type of vehicle you are booking, hackney carriage (taxi) or private hire vehicle (minicab).
- Different councils have different fares for taxis. Minicab firms set their own fares. This may explain why a journey from one town costs less or more than a journey in another town. If you are unsure, call the local council to check.
Making a Complaint
- If you want to make a complaint you will need some or all of the following information:
Vehicle plate number (this is the number issued by the council. Usually displayed on the rear of the vehicle)
Vehicle registration number (this is the standard number plate that all cars have)
Vehicle make and model
Driver Badge number
- Don’t worry if you can’t get all of this information. Just one or two bits is often enough to trace the driver.
- If you can, ask for a receipt from the driver. This is often an easy way to get the driver or company details.
- Even if you are not happy to go forward with a case against a driver, please do report the matter to DTACS or to your local council. This helps local councils build a picture of any behaviour that is below the required standard.
- To make a complaint in most parts of the UK you will need to contact the local council in the area you had the problem. If in doubt, call your own local council licensing department and they will help you.
- To report a driver or operator in London you will need to contact Transport for London.
If you need free advice on any of these points please do contact us and we can advise on whether or not an offence has been committed and what you can do to make sure the driver or operator is dealt with correctly.