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Your Rights when Travelling in a Taxi or Minicab

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Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle (minicab) Passenger Advice Leaflet

We have significantly updated this old post to take account of the most recent changes to the law in June 2022. The old version of this post is no longer available.

Read on to find out more about your rights when travelling in a taxi or minicab in England and Wales, or go to the bottom of the page to download one of our free leaflets for your future reference.

Your rights when travelling in a taxi or minicab

Introduction

Under licensing law and the Equality Act 2010, all drivers and operators of taxi and private hire vehicle services must do all they can to keep their customers safe. This includes making ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the service they provide.

This means they must think ahead to work out how best to help everyone. It means they must not put disabled people at a disadvantage or treat them differently (in a bad way) to any other passenger.

There are also certain things a driver or operator cannot do. If they do these things, and they cannot show why they did them, they will commit a criminal offence.

Because there are a lot of rules around this, we have listed the information in different sections to make things as clear as possible. If you are unsure about your rights, you can always call your local council and ask to speak to the licensing team for more information.

Assistance Dogs

Drivers must allow you to travel with any trained assistance dog of the following type:

(a) a dog which has been trained to guide a blind person;

(b) a dog which has been trained to assist a deaf person;

(c) a dog which has been trained by a prescribed charity to assist a disabled person who has a disability that consists of epilepsy or otherwise affects the person’s mobility, manual dexterity, physical co-ordination or ability to lift, carry or otherwise move everyday objects;

(d) a dog of a prescribed category which has been trained to assist a disabled person who has a disability (other than one falling within paragraph (c)) of a prescribed kind.

They must not charge, or try to charge, extra for carrying the dog.

Drivers should not ask you to sit in a particular seat in the vehicle and they must not suggest the dog sits somewhere away from you.

Private Hire Operators (the minicab booking office) cannot refuse to accept a booking for a passenger travelling with an assistance dog. They must not charge, or try to charge, extra.

Refusing a booking or refusing to carry an assistance dog without a valid reason is a criminal offence. A driver or an operator (or both) can be prosecuted for these offences. The only valid reason is where a driver has an exemption certificate issued by the local council.

In these cases it is the council or the police who prosecutes the offence.

To help in these situations, owners of assistance dogs may carry the dog’s identification papers so that the dog can be easily identified as an assistance dog. However, you do not have to do this. Dogs can also be identified in other ways such as by the harness or livery they are wearing and these vary depending on the dog’s role. Drivers can ask a few questions if they are unsure about identifying a dog because it is important for them to know that the dog is trained to travel safely in the vehicle. They should not simply assume that a dog is not an assistance dog.

When can a driver refuse to carry you?

A driver can only refuse to carry an assistance dog if they have a valid exemption certificate for carrying assistance dogs.

Drivers with an exemption certificate do not have to carry assistance dogs due to a medical reason, for example the driver may be allergic to dogs.

Certificates are only issued on medical grounds and drivers must display an exemption notice in the vehicle. They must show you the exemption certificate if you ask to see it.

Designated Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

The law says that councils must provide a list of vehicles that are fully wheelchair accessible (a section 167 list). This list is often online on the council website. Fully wheelchair accessible means you can travel in the vehicle while you are sitting in your wheelchair. You can also check a vehicle by calling the council licensing team.

Drivers of vehicles on the section 167 list must carry a person in their wheelchair without charging any more money than they would usually charge for a person who is not a wheelchair user. They must provide reasonable ‘mobility assistance’ to help you in and out of the vehicle and they must make sure you are comfortable and safe before setting off (for example, by correctly securing the wheelchair).

If the driver of a vehicle on this list refuses to do any of these things without a valid reason they may be committing a criminal offence.

All vehicle types

Drivers of any vehicle type must give mobility assistance to any disabled passenger who needs it.  This includes folding wheelchairs to put in the boot, carrying walking aids, sighted guiding and other assistance that may be reasonable.

If the driver of any vehicle refuses to do any of these things without a valid reason they may be committing a criminal offence.

When can a driver refuse to provide mobility assistance?

A driver of a designated wheelchair accessible vehicle or another vehicle type may have an exemption certificate due to a medical reason, for example the driver may have an injury that stops them from pushing the wheelchair, lifting the ramp or folding and carrying a wheelchair.

Certificates are only issued on medical grounds and drivers who hold an exemption are only allowed to refuse to provide ‘mobility assistance’.

They must still follow all of the other requirements of the Equality Act (for example, they must still charge the right price).

Drivers must display an exemption notice in the vehicle and they must show you the exemption certificate if you ask to see it.

Assisting customers to find a vehicle

When you book a taxi or a private hire vehicle to pick you up, the operator (or person on the telephone) should ask you if you need any assistance.

Even if they do not ask you this, if you tell them that you need assistance to find the vehicle they must tell the driver this, and the driver must get out of the vehicle to help you when they arrive to pick you up.

If the driver of any vehicle refuses to get out of the vehicle to help you when you have asked for help they may be committing a criminal offence.

When can a driver refuse to help?

There is no exemption certificate for this.

Reasonable Adjustment

As well as certain legal duties that may lead to criminal offences, the Equality Act 2010 has a general requirement that service providers must offer ‘reasonable adjustment’ to make sure customer can travel fairly and equally.

Reasonable adjustment means that if you are asking for help that most people would consider reasonable, the driver should consider doing what you ask.

Reasonable adjustment depends on what is happening in each case at the time. However, there are some general actions that would usually be considered reasonable, for example:

  • The driver guiding or helping you into the vehicle. This should include assisting you from your pick up point rather than the driver waiting in the vehicle or sounding a horn. (Remember, if you have asked for assistance when booking, the driver must get out to help you anyway otherwise they commit a criminal offence).
  • The driver approaching you at a rank to ask if you need assistance. This is helpful of the driver and is not ‘touting’ which is where a driver asks you for your business.
  • The driver helping you to get out of the vehicle at your destination and giving guidance for where to go next. If you request further assistance in to a building or to the door of a building the driver may be able to provide this depending on other factors (reasonable in the circumstances).
  • There should not be any extra charge for drivers helping you to the building or door.
  • The taxi or minicab firm having a recognised standard of disability, equality and dementia awareness training for drivers.
  • There is no soiling charge for an assistance dog that sheds some fur or hair.

Download our leaflet

 

Why not dowload our free leaflet? This gives all of the information in this blog plus checklists for what to look out for when travelling, including details of how to make a complaint if you want to.

DTACS

DTACS is operated by experienced professional criminal and civil investigators, people with a disability and those with knowledge of the problems of those travelling with a disability.