Trans­port op­tions for el­derly to im­prove

The Horowhenua Mail - - CONVERSATIONS - MIRI SCHROETER

It is a hoped a law change will boost the trans­port op­tions for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties who have been strug­gling to get a ride.

Though the num­ber of peo­ple us­ing spe­cialty pas­sen­ger ser­vices in Palmer­ston North has de­clined, one provider says it’s not due to re­duced pa­tron­age. In fact, they are strug­gling to keep up with de­mand.

Hori­zons Re­gional Coun­cil’s To­tal Mo­bil­ity scheme helps el­derly peo­ple and those with dis­abil­i­ties, who can­not eas­ily use pub­lic trans­port, get around the re­gion for a dis­counted fare.

From July 2016 to June 2017, about 62,400 rides were taken by mo­bil­ity users in Palmer­ston North. This is down from the same pe­riod one year prior, when more than 71,000 trips were taken.

In the wider Manawatu¯ area, trips have in­creased by about 500, with 18,600 trips in 2016/17 com­pared to 18,100 the pre­vi­ous fi­nan­cial year.

Taxis Gold and Black owner op­er­a­tor Nick Devon­shire said some­times peo­ple had to wait up to two hours for a pick up to be­come avail­able.

‘‘It is a con­sis­tent daily prob­lem.’’

The users were vul­ner­a­ble and needed re­li­able ser­vices, Devon­shire said.

He wanted more providers to join the To­tal Mo­bil­ity scheme.

Un­til re­cently, the only com­pa­nies Hori­zons al­lowed on the scheme were taxi ser­vices, which ex­cluded pri­vate hire ser­vices such as Driv­ing Miss Daisy.

To­tal Mo­bil­ity co-or­di­na­tor Des­ley Monks said the pass­ing of the Land Trans­port Amend­ment Act 2017 in Au­gust meant all ser­vices were now con­sid­ered small pas­sen­ger ser­vices so they were all on a level play­ing field.

The only two taxi com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing in Palmer­ston North - Taxis Gold and Black and Palmer­ston North Taxis - were the only ser­vices in the city on the scheme, but oth­ers could now ap­ply, she said.

Levin has Taxis Di­rect on the scheme, Whanganui has River City, and Feild­ing has Feild­ing Taxis.

Driv­ers ap­ply­ing for the scheme must meet con­di­tions in­clud­ing pass­ing a crim­i­nal and driv­ing his­tory check.

Driv­ing Miss Daisy di­rec­tor Jack Harper said he was keen for his busi­ness to be in­volved.

The pas­sen­ger trans­port com­mit­tee agreed on Wed­nes­day to open up the scheme to all small pas­sen­ger ser­vices.

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