Transport options for elderly to improve
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.