Transport CommitteeWritten evidence from Raya Al-Jadir (DAT 73)

TAXI DIARY

Case One

Taxi No: 90540

Incident Date: 11th of January 2012

Time : 10:15pm

Location: outside The Cambridge Theatre, of Seven Dials, 32-34 Earlham Street, London WC2H 9Hu

Details: After a night out at the theatre, my friends and I tried to hail a taxi, the driver agreed to take my friends but when one of them asked if he had a ramp for the wheelchair, his reply was a clear no. As we pulled away, at that precise moment a group of people hailed the same taxi and as they opened the door to get inside my friend noticed that the taxi had an in-built ramp! We confronted the driver with our findings, at first he ignored us then tried to deny the fact, but when we told him we saw the ramp and that we took his taxi registration to write to TFL and complain he changed his story for the 3rd time and claimed that my wheelchair could break his ramp and I will have to cover the cost! I weight about 36KG and my wheelchair is of a standard size and weight, so even if that was possible for a wheelchair to break a ramp, mine could never do that, plus all taxis are insured for such damages.

Action Taken: Wrote a letter of complaints to London’s carriage office, which did not achieve much as the driver received a warning only, on the basis that I ‘would not want someone to lose their job because of such incident’..

My Proposition: With this particular driver he deserved to be fined, for three reasons; he lied about having a ramp, he was not apologetic and showed rather aggressive behaviour, suggesting I would break the ramp and would have to pay for it.

Case Two

Taxi No: 89057, driver’s number 30964

Incident Date: Thursday 15th March 2012

Time : approximately 8.04 pm

Location: Kensington Gore, SW7

Details: A friend and I were on trying to hail a cab, but they just drove past us so I hid, only then a taxi stopped, agreed to take my friend then when she told him we require disabled access he said ‘I don’t have a ramp’ so my friend asked him again to make sure, then opened the door only to find an inbuilt ramp! My friend told him we shall be complaining. Suddenly his statement changed from not having a ramp, to having a broken ramp, he then insisted on taking us or showing us how the ramp is broken and kept following us for good 5 minutes or more. But I refused to get into a taxi that the driver initially was against my custom. To be fair, he did not turn aggressive or ill mannered but was calm, polite and apologetic, a sign of fear or remorse I am not sure but the end result he lied.

Action Taken: Wrote a letter of complaints to London’s carriage office, which did not achieve much as the driver received a warning only,

My Proposition: Although the driver was polite, there is no escaping the fact he lied about having a ramp and if it was broken then he should have fixed it. If it was up to me I would send him on training and issue a small fine.

Case Three

Taxi No: 95484

Incident Date: Tuesday 3rd July 2012

Time : approximately 4:22 pm

Location: The royal Brompton hospital, Fulham Road, London SW3

Details: After a hospital appointment on a rainy summer day, my carer and I tried to hail a cab, but they just drove past us and then when finally a taxi stopped, I informed him that I will require disabled access, his answer ‘my ramp is broken’ , I asked him again to make sure, he repeated that ‘his ramp is broken’ to which I suggested he should get fixed, his reply was ‘it is not me, but the garage, they are not fixing it’ I wonder if any other part of the taxi was broken would he have been so relaxed and patient with the garage?! I waited in the rain getting wet and watched as taxis drove past, I gave up and resorted to hiding and left my carer to hail a cab and finally managed to get home.

Action Taken: Wrote a letter of complaints to London’s carriage office, no action was taken as taxis are not complied to stop if hailed.

My Proposition: Although the driver was polite, there is no escaping the fact if the ramp broken then he should have fixed it. Ideally, I would send him on training and issue a small fine.

Case Four

Taxi No: 11185

Incident Date: Saturday 21st July 2012

Time : approximately 5:38 pm

Location: Victoria station, London SW1V 1LG

Details: After seeing ‘Wicked’ a Apollo Victoria theatre with brother and niece, we knew the problem of hailing a taxi so decided to go to the taxi rank at Victoria Station where we are more likely to get one. Once we reached our turn in the queue, so approximately after 11 minutes of waiting, the taxi driver informed us that his taxi’s particular ramp was not suitable for my wheelchair!! Hence he can’t take me on board. Obviously I can’t and would not force my custom on anyone, so I merely pointed out that all ramps are the same and suitable for various wheelchairs, then took the next taxi which had the ‘right’ ramp.

Action Taken: None taken, I just gave up hope.

My Proposition: I would send this driver on double course of training, one to learn customer service and second an extensive course of ramps and their usage. I would also issue a fine.

Case Five

Taxi No: 21586

Incident Date: Friday 19th October 2012

Time : approximately 5:39 pm

Location: Outside Tate Britain , Millbank, London Sw1

Details: On a rainy windy day, after few hours at Tate Britain, my brother and I headed to the taxi rank that is located right in front the main entrance of the gallery, my brother went and asked if the driver is willing to take us back to our home address, and when the driver agreed we asked for the ramp. Here the taxi driver seemed confused saying ‘it is not my cab, I am only hiring it’ so according to him it is broken, but sees no cause to fix it.

Action Taken: Wrote a letter of complaints to London’s carriage office, no action was taken as taxis driver denied the incident.

My Proposition: I would send him on training and issue a fine.

Case Six

Taxi No: 12323

Incident Date: Friday 19th October 2012

Time : approximately 5:44 pm

Location: Outside Tate Britain , Millbank, London Sw1

Details: On the same rainy windy day, and after only few minutes of being refused a ride by a taxi for not having a ramp, another one had a similar problem. This driver did not know how to use a ramp and by his behaviour I am no even sure he has seen one before, after offering 3 times to lift the wheelchair inside, he reluctantly opened the taxi boot which was full of various clutter and got the ‘ramp’ out. In actual fact, it was a ramp extension that gets used when the in-built ramps are deemed too steep. He had no clue as I tried to explain, I realised I was wasting my effort. I left as the extension ramp could not be fixed on the taxi. I got even more wet but managed to get a taxi home.

Action Taken: None taken.

My Proposition: I would send him on extensive training and issue a fine.

Case Seven

Taxi No: 33931

Incident Date: Friday 19th October 2012

Time : approximately 11 pm

Location: Outside Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London Sw7 2AP

Details: On an extremely cold night (temperature for that night was -5 C degrees) my friends and I tried to hail a taxi, several passed us by, I am assuming because they saw me. Once my friend moved away from me she managed to stop one, who was willing to take her until she asked for a ramp, apparently the taxi does not have one.

Action Taken: Wrote a letter of complaints to London’s carriage office, I have yet to hear back.

My Proposition: I would send him on training and issue a fine.

February 2013

Prepared 13th September 2013