A taxi and private hire drivers’ group has condemned claims that a disabled Leeds man was quoted 10-times more than usual for a 5.6 mile trip.
Javaid Akhtar, branch secretary for the Yorkshire Professional Drivers’ Association at the GMB union, said he was “gobsmacked” by prices put to 18-year-old disability campaigner Nathan Popple.
Mr Popple, who has severe disabilities due to cerebral palsy, claims to have been quoted £108 for a one-way journey in a wheelchair accessible car from his Adel home to Armley.
He was quoted £60 for the same journey as a return trip by another firm and £30 by another, although those companies offered either limited times or refused advanced bookings.
In a complaint to operators, MPs and Leeds City Council, the Accessible Leeds founder also highlighted instances of drivers refusing to stop for disabled people, not stating collection times or overcharging.
Mr Akhtar believes that drivers and companies “should know better” than to discriminate and called for equality.
“£108 is absolutely silly. For 5.6 miles it should be £8 or £9 – if an able bodied person is paying that why should we treat disabled people any different? We should treat them on an equal basis,” he said. “Something needs to be done to educate the licence holders and try to bring it to their attention.
“We should respect all human kind and treat people with dignity and respect.”
Mohammed Shabir, from Unite’s Leeds taxi section, said Hackney carriage drivers all undergo equality training and help people in wheelchairs.
He said: “We are not all like that [not stopping for disabled people] – if we were we wouldn’t be granted our licences.”
Leeds City Council can revoke private hire licences if complaints are proven. Hackney carriage drivers must also abide by the Equality Act 2010 or face possible prosecution.
A council spokeswoman said it was “concerned” by the allegations and plans to investigate them fully. The council has no control over private hire fares.
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