The State Government announced 330 extra wheelchair accessible taxis would be introduced throughout 2009.
A DISABILITY centre in the south-east cautiously welcomed the announcement that hundreds more wheelchair-accessible taxis would ply the roads.
Dandenong’s Disability Resource Centre chairman Frank Hall- Bentick said he was pleased that 330 more taxis would be made available next year, but reminded drivers that they need to pick up the people who use them.
The State Government last month announced that 330 such taxis would hit the roads throughout 2009.
“We are very happy that these extra cabs have been put on because we’ve been calling for this for more than 20 years,” Mr Hall-Bentick said.
“But the important thing is to be making sure the drivers actually pick up disabled people and don’t use their licences to do other work.”
Mr Hall-Bentick said it depended on the “good will” of a driver as to whether a person with a disability was picked up in a wheelchair accessible taxi.
But Mr Hall-Bentick said the increased number of taxis was good news for people with a disability because their waiting times would decrease.
“Particularly in the outer south east where public transport is not always regular it’s important that every available taxi is used to pick people (with a disability) up.”
People with disabilities waited up to two hours for a taxi at peak times, Mr Hall-Bentick said.
“So these extra vehicles will allow people to be picked up around busy times and (they do) not have to wait.”
Cranbourne MP Jude Perera said he was impressed by how the changes considered the needs of people with disabilities and their rights to have equal access to taxi services.
As part of the changes the Multi Purpose Taxi Program (MPTP) would double the trip cap from $30 to $60 from 13 December.
The MPTP entitles eligible cardholders to a 50 per cent subsidy from the government for each taxi trip.
“The increase in the MPTP cap will help people in Cranbourne enjoy a greater quality of life by enabling them to get out and about more,” Mr Perera said.
“We’re happy with the announcement and would like to see the government keeping an eye on taxi owners to see if they are doing a proper number of jobs each week,” Mr Hall-Bentick said.