There are two kinds of taxi:
- London-style 'black cabs', which are licensed by the local authority and can be hailed in the street or at a taxi rank
- private hire vehicles (PHVs), often called minicabs, which are operated by companies and have to be booked in advance
In London, all black cabs must be accessible as part of their 'conditions of fitness'. They must have anchorage for a wheelchair to be safely carried or stowed, have grab handles in a contrasting colour and have an induction loop fitted. The taxi door must be at least 750mm wide and 1200mm high, and open at least 90°. Not all black cabs are equally accessible for wheelchair users. Ramps that are steep, and channel ramps, can be difficult.
Outside of London, some local authorities only issue licenses to taxis that have room for wheelchair users. In many cases, taxis in these areas will be the same as in London. There are now adapted people-carriers or vans and, while there are no minimum standards for these, they are likely to have at least the same amount of room for wheelchair users as London cabs. Some van conversions may be bigger and can take two wheelchair users. To find out what's available in a particular area, contact your local taxi-licensing office.
Drivers of accessible taxis (of both kinds) have to provide their passengers with a reasonable amount of mobility assistance. This means that if you use a wheelchair, the driver must help you into and out of the vehicle, either in your wheelchair or transferring to a seat. They must also load the wheelchair into the vehicle and offer to load and unload your luggage.
Drivers who are not physically able to assist in this way will display an exemption certificate. If the taxi isn't accessible, the driver doesn't have the same requirement to help.
In London, the Taxicard scheme provides subsidised transport for disabled people who have difficulty using public transport. It's run by local councils and is only for people living in London.
Some other areas have similar concessions in place. Contact your local authority to find out what applies in your area.
Reporting back and complaining
Your local council will have a taxi-licensing office. Contact them if you want to complain or give feedback. If you can, note down the driver's badge number or the taxi's licence-plate number.
For complaints about London taxis, contact Surface Transport Customer Services or fill in a complaint form online.
Travel tips and advice
- If you're sitting in a wheelchair, make sure you travel in the right position, secure the chair and wear a seat belt; never sit sideways.
- Some drivers might drive past if they see you in a wheelchair or with a guide dog (even though this is an offence), so get someone else or a friend to hail the taxi.
- Booking taxis at certain times of day - such as 8.30-9.30am and 3-6pm - may be a problem, as they may be pre-booked for work or school journeys.
- RNIB can provide taxi-hailing cards for blind or partially sighted people. These are cards with 'TAXI' printed on them, which you can hold up.
- In London, the Hailo app for smartphones lets you order black cabs and make payments (useful if you can't read the meter, or if handling money is difficult). You can also let drivers know in advance if you're a wheelchair user.
- The website Traintaxi lets you know whether there's a taxi rank at any train station and gives the phone numbers of local firms with wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
- Let a licensed minicab company know that you have a visual impairment. Ask the driver to tell you exactly where they've parked and describe the surroundings.
Last updated: August 2015