The future’s bright, the future’s VW?


Richmond – Hanworth

Often in London there is no end to end accessible public transport except buses, and sometimes even they aren’t available, especially as you enter the ‘burbs. So today I’m relying on private hire.

Interestingly the outward journey is straight forward. It’s only the return journey three hours later that’s worthy of note. The first problem is the driver couldn’t find us despite a SatNav, post code, street names, and an enormous sign. Fortunately it was sunny and warm, so waiting was no hardship, except of course that’s 45 minutes I’ll never get back. Would you wait that long for a taxi and be happy? As a wheelchair user it’s not uncommon.

When we eventually connected with the taxi we had some difficulty securing me and the chair for the journey. Every wheelchair had different anchor points and likewise, so do most of the ‘jockeys’. This isn’t understood by many of the companies who “train” their drivers in one method only. It’s also fair to say all the taxies seem to have a unique configuration of hook, straps and bolts, even the apparently otherwise identical ones.

These delays and problems were good for me because it made the driver extra helpful, and willing to talk. As a result I got a detailed breakdown of all of the company’s vehicles, including the new rear-loading Volkswagens. Next time we take a trip I’ll ask for one of these specifically and see if they’re more comfortable.

Addendum: As I’ve mentioned before this company charges a ‘vehicle surcharge’ for transporting wheelies like me. I thought it worthwhile to find out the surcharge of the various vehicles which, for your interest, is £15 for a Fiat Doblo or £20 for a VW Caddy. That’s on top of the journey fare remember, and a practise approved by TfL.

About Alan

I'm an Economist, Geek, Campaigner & wheelchair user who's been using all forms of public transport for 20+ years.
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2 Responses to The future’s bright, the future’s VW?

  1. Lianna Etkind says:

    Hi thanks for these blogs! I find the detail really useful. Didn’t know that about the different kinds of wheelchair securing.

    I’m intrigued about what you say about the extra charge being approved by tfl. Where do they approve it? It’s something we’d like to investigate. As you may know, its technically illegal under section 165 but that section has never been brought into force. Potential for a campaign…?

    Also best of luck for the interview today!


    • Alan says:

      I’m pleased it’s useful. I hadn’t really appreciated how bad my experience was until I started to keep a proper record. I do wonder how representative I am.

      I was once refused access to a taxi because tying down my electric chair with webbing straps “was an electrocution risk”!

      I’ll email you about the charge an TfLs response, but I think a campaign may be worthwhile.

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