People with disabilities celebrate accessible taxi service reintroduction

Asia-Pacific, September 4 2011

Hawkesbury, Australia: A fatal accident at Clarendon in the early hours of July 17 had further bad repercussions, but on Monday of them came to an end.

The Gazette reported the accident at the time, a collision between a pedestrian and a taxi for disabled people. The taxi was the only one available in the Hawkesbury for casual users.

The vehicle has been out of commission since, awaiting a part from Japan which has been held up due to the chaos caused by the tsunami there.

Hawkesbury Village nursing home resident and wheelchair user Pamela Henry has been housebound during the week for five weeks since then, because the only other wheelchair taxi the company has is tied up with contractual trips that must be made Monday to Thursday.

Ms Henry hasn’t been able to visit her son in South Windsor or go out for meals during the week since the accident, and she said other residents at her complex, and no doubt other wheelchair users in the Hawkesbury would have been adversely affected as well.

Hawkesbury Richmond Windsor Taxis, part of the Premier cab network, tried to hire another disabled taxi to tide them over, but was told by the Department of Transport that they had to get any temporary vehicle badged as a Premier cab, but they couldn’t for a borrowed vehicle.

“Our enquiries had drawn a blank,” the company’s Sandra Marsh said last Thursday. “But yesterday they (Department of Transport) rang my husband and said they’d found a vehicle – it’s a Taxis Combined cab.”

The cab has now been running since Monday.

Ms Marsh told the Gazette it had been an “horrific few weeks” for the company, as her husband had been involved in the accident, then had the distress of not being able to replace the vehicle, rendering him unable to look after his customers.

“It was awful, all the people aff-ected,” Ms Marsh said. “It’s been heartbreaking. It was a huge relief to get a vehicle back on the road.”

A Department of Transport spokesperson said an alternative wheelchair taxi service had been available to residents during those five weeks – the Zero 200 service on 8332 0200, which takes bookings all over Sydney. It has had 34 bookings from our area since July 17.


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