Most Sunderland taxis no use to wheelchair users
Seven out of 10 taxis and private hire vehicles in Sunderland cannot be used by people in wheelchairs, new figures reveal.
With just one in seven vehicles nationally suitably equipped, disability charity Scope said everyday inequality is rife.
Department for Transport figures show 568 vehicles were licensed to operate in Sunderland at the end of March – with just 177 (31%) able to be used by people in wheelchairs.
Of the 280 traditional taxis which can be hailed from the street, only 170 (61%) were wheelchair accessible and just seven – two per cent – of the area's 288 private hire vehicles, which need to be pre-booked, offered the same service.
Nationally, just two per cent of private hire vehicles can accommodate a wheelchair.
Scope said four-fifths of disabled people feel anxious on public transport – with the coronavirus pandemic exacerbating this – leaving many reliant on taxis and PHVs.
Tom Marsland, policy manager for consumer affairs at the charity, said: "When these aren't accessible to disabled people, they are robbed of their independence.
"Consistent regulation and enforcement across all transport authorities would help hold drivers and taxi organisations accountable for their accessibility, and improve disabled people's trust in the system."
A DfT spokeswoman said: “Our National Disability Strategy will drive forward new laws to ensure disabled people get the right help in taxis and private hire vehicles.
“All councils should be using existing powers to provide enough wheelchair accessible vehicles and ensuring all drivers are trained to support every disabled passenger.”