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Want to stay on the right side of the law? We support businesses and public authorities and help them to promote good practice.
 
 

Taxis/Private Hire Vehicles

What you need to know

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Taxi operators - Avoid disability discrimination


It is against the law for transport service providers such as taxi operators to discriminate against disabled people in the way in which they provide or do not provide their services.

Taxi operators have duties under disability discrimination law in relation to transport infrastructure such as their buildings and information services.

Whether any less favourable treatment would be unlawful (e.g. like charging disabled people higher fares than non-disabled people) is likely to depend on who is providing the service and on whether there is any lawful justification for it and that will depend on the specific circumstances of each case.

The legislation makes it unlawful for taxi operators to refuse or deliberately fail to provide a service to a disabled person. They must also make "reasonable adjustments" to take away or overcome elements in their services which present barriers to disabled people.

 

What is the Code of Practice?

The Equality Commission has produced a Code of Practice on the Provision and Use of Transport Vehicles which explains the law and provides guidance to transport providers, advisors and disabled people on the scope of the Disability Transport Regulations.

As well as complying with the legislation, making services more accessible and marketing them as such is likely to increase an operator´s attractiveness to disabled passengers, who represent around 1 in 5 people in Northern Ireland.

 

 

What does the law define as a taxi?

For the purposes of this guidance the legislation covers taxis which seat not more than eight passengers in addition to the driver.

This includes:
  • public hire taxis which can stand at ranks, be hailed in the street or be pre-booked
  • private hire vehicles, commonly referred to as private hire taxis, which must be pre-booked
  • taxi buses
 

Example of discrimination

Disabled people can encounter unfair treatment in transport in many ways. Here are a few examples of how a disabled person may be discriminated against by a taxi service provider:
  • A taxi driver charges a disabled person more than a non disabled person for the same service. This is likely to be less favourable treatment. However, if the taxi driver charges more for an accessible taxi regardless of whether the person is disabled it is unlikely that this would be less favourable treatment as the operator is charging every customer the same  regardless of disability.

Depending on the circumstances it may be possible to justify less favourable treatment, for example, if it is necessary for an accessible  taxi to travel a long distance to a disabled person then  a charge incorporating the actual cost could be justifiable. 

  • A person with a mobility impairment explains to a taxi driver that they need assistance from the vehicle to the door of their house. The driver tells the disabled passenger that they cannot do this as it is not normal practice. This is likely to be discrimination unless the taxi driver can show that the decision was justified. For example, that the driver also has a mobility difficulty or that the driver would have to leave the car empty at a busy junction which could be a health and safety risk. In such circumstances the driver should make decisions based on the information available to them and should explain the situation to the disabled passenger. They should consider any alternatives, allowing the passenger to phone a neighbour to come and help them to the door for example.
 
 

The Law
A copy of the Government’s legislation can be viewed online:
Disability Discrimination (Transport Vehicles) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009
 
Advice and Guidance for Transport Service Providers
The Equality Commission provides information and advice on the duties on transport providers and rights for disabled transport service users.  For more information please contact us on 028 90500600 or email us information@equalityni.org

Training
Training sessions can be provided, on request, for group bookings, subject to sufficient numbers and feasibility. For further information, please contact us

The Inclusive Mobility and Transport Advisory Committee (IMTAC)
IMTAC is a committee of disabled people, older people and key transport professionals who advise the Government and organisations in Northern Ireland on issues that affect the mobility of older people and disabled people. Further information is available at www.imtac.org.uk
 

 

Publications for Transport Service Providers
The Equality Commission´s Code of Practice on the Provision and Use of Transport Vehicles, provides guidance for transport providers, advisors and disabled people on the scope of the regulations.


Disability Transport Code of Practice

 Code of Practice - Provision and use of transport vehicles
 (PDF 225Kb, 72pages)


  The Code is also available in:

  - Braille
  - Large print
  - Easyread 
  - Audio versions






Short Guides
A series of short guides for transport service providers is also available:

To request copies of any of the above publications, or if you would like them in a different format such as braille contact us at information@equalityni.org or telephone 028 90500600


The Law
Download a copy of the legislation (PDF, 52kb):
 

 
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