Seek­ing a fare go for dis­abled

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By ROSANNA CAN­DLER

JAMES Davies says he risks his safety ev­ery time he books a taxi to leave the house.

The 25-year-old Mt Clare­mont res­i­dent was born 26 weeks pre­ma­ture with spas­tic quadriple­gia cere­bral palsy, uses an elec­tric wheel­chair and re­quires around-the-clock care.

Mr Davies re­lies on wheel­chair-ac­ces­si­ble maxi-taxis for in­de­pen­dent trans­port, which he said were un­re­li­able and of­ten un­safe.

“I can’t just call and count on a well-trained driver show­ing up at my door,” he said.

“Some­times they don’t know how to op­er­ate the hoist or strap the chair in, so if they drive around a cor­ner I would tip right over.

“It’s not the driv­ers, it’s the sys­tem. I have made many for­mal com­plaints over the years that have come to noth­ing.”

A Depart­ment of Trans­port spokes­woman said all mul­ti­pur­pose taxi driv­ers were re­quired to com­plete a two-day train­ing course.

WEST Aus­tralian wheel­chair users de­serve a more re­li­able, safe and con­ve­nient trans­port al­ter­na­tive to taxis, says dis­abil­ity client ser­vices of­fi­cer James Davies.

Mr Davies said he wanted rideshare app Uber to launch its wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble op­tion UberWAV in Perth to utilise in­ac­tive dis­abil­ity vans, in­crease com­pe­ti­tion and make the sys­tem fairer on driv­ers and con­sumers.

“The sys­tem is dis­grace­fully poor at the mo­ment,” he said.

“If your reg­u­lar driv­ers fall through, it’s an ab­so­lute night­mare.

“When I meet some­one new who uses a wheel­chair, my first ques­tion is: ‘Which driv­ers do you use?’ There are a few out there who are re­ally good, and then there are those who just play the sys­tem. There is no mech­a­nism for see­ing what they are like when you make a book­ing. But with Uber you see their face, their name and their rat­ing.”

Mr Davies said there were hun­dreds of wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble vans as­so­ci­ated with dis­abil­ity ser­vice providers that were only in use dur­ing work hours.

“A ride-share app could be an av­enue for car­ers to make some more money, and for as­so­ci­a­tions to bet­ter use their fleet,” he said.

An Uber Aus­tralia spokesman said the com­pany was speak­ing with WA dis­abil­ity groups for bet­ter ways to pro­vide trans­port for peo­ple in fixed wheel­chairs. “While we have no plans to launch any ad­di­tional ser­vices at this time, we will con­tinue to ex­plore how we can pro­vide more trans­port op­tions for Perthi­ans with dif­fer­ent ac­ces­si­bil­ity re­quire­ments,” Mr Nixon said.

The Depart­ment of Trans­port did not re­spond be­fore dead­line to ques­tions re­gard­ing multi-pur­pose taxi safety stan­dards, po­ten­tial so­lu­tions to Mr Davies’ con­cerns and whether taxi vouch­ers could be made avail­able for UberWAV.

Mr Davies said he had to fac­tor in a cou­ple of hours of buf­fer ev­ery time he left the house in case the taxi was late or did not turn up.

“I have care sup­port, I have my de­gree, I have a job. All those things have fallen into place. This is one of the fi­nal is­sues that ur­gently need to be ad­dressed for peo­ple like me.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie d443169

James Davies feels un­safe with some taxi driv­ers.

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