Tag Archives: minicabs

Discrimination By Taxi Driver Who Refused To Convey Me With My Guide Dog Trigger

In the United Kingdom it is an offence under the Equalities Act 2010 for a taxi driver and/or a company to refuse to convey an assistance dog owner accompanied by their working animal (http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/legal-and-policy/legislation/equality-act-2010). As those of you who follow this blog will know, I am a registered blind guide dog owner. This post is about the discrimination I encountered on 27 October when a taxi driver from Station Cars refused to convey me and my guide dog Trigger.

Responsibility for ensuring taxi companies comply with their legal obligations to convey assistance dog owners, accompanied by their working animals rests with the Public Carriage Office, (https://www.tfl.gov.uk/info-for/taxis-and-private-hire/). I reported the issue on 27 October however I have, to date received no feedback from PCO regarding my complaint other than an automated acknowledgement that it had been received by them. I have chased, several times (including via recorded delivery). However I have yet to receive a response from the PCO.

I have thus far refrained from blogging about the incident in the hope that it could be resolved via the PCO. However given the inordinate amount of time things are taking I have determined to blog about the incident in order to highlight it and the difficulties faced by myself and other assistance dog owners.

I have reproduced below my e-mail to PCO (withholding my address and that of the witnesses to the incident for reasons of privacy).

 

Text Of E-Mail From Kevin Morris To PCO Sent On 27 October 2014

 

“Dear Sir/Madam,

Further to my conversation with (name redacted) of today’s date, I am
writing to complain regarding the failure of Station Cars (vehicle
registration LC63UBM – a Vauxhall Zafira) to convey me and my guide
dog Trigger from my home (address redacted). to (address redacted)

At the time of the incident my guide dog was wearing his distinctive
harness clearly marking him as a working guide dog.
At approximately 7:40 am on Monday 27 October I telephoned Crystal
Cars and requested a car to convey me and my guide dog to (address redacted). The firm advised that the taxi would be with me
for around 8:15 AM.
At about 8:20 am a driver arrived from Station Cars and refused to
convey me and my guide dog. I explained that under the Equalities Act
he was obliged to take guide dogs when accompanied by their owners. He
said that he had not been informed about the presence of the dog and
contacted his office (Station Cars). Station cars backed up the driver
and on me requesting to speak to them (the driver handed over his
mobile) Station Cars repeated that they where not obliged to convey
guide dogs. The firm further confirmed that the booking had been
passed to them by Crystal Cars owing to Crystal Cars not having a
driver available.
My neighbour, (name and address redacted) and her daughter, (name redacted) spoke with the driver and tried to
reason with him. However he remained adamant that he wouldn’t convey
me and my guide dog. (Name redacted) then took the driver’s details as set
out above.
I subsequently contacted Crystal Cars who apologised for the incident
and sent another car which arrived quickly.
To recap. The initial booking was made with Crystal Cars who due to
not having any drivers available passed on the booking to Station
Cars. It was a driver from Station Cars and Station Cars themselves
who refused to convey me and my guide dog. The dog was wearing his
distinctive harness so it was crystal clear that he was a working
guide dog. I would be grateful if you could please investigate the
actions of Station Cars and the driver in question.
Should you require any further information please do not hesitate to
contact me.

tours Faithfully

Kevin Morris

 

Taxi!

“Can you get your dog to sit down please”, the minicab (private hire) taxi driver says. I am sitting in the back of the car my guide dog, Trigger seated quietly at my feet. I therefore assume that the driver wishes Trigger to lie down which, on my command he does.

“Did you tell the company you had a guard dog?” the cabbie asks.

“Yes I told them that I have a guide dog”, (me emphasising the word guide), “drivers have to take guide dogs under the law unless they have a medical exemption certificate stating that they are allergic to dogs”.

“I know. This is the only dog I take”. Why then I ponder inwardly are you asking me whether I told the company as you have taken me previously and, in any case the law obliges you to convey guide and other assistance dogs when accompanied by their owners? I don’t pursue the matter and the vehicle arrives at my destination.

“How much do the company charge for the dog?” the driver asks.

“£5” I answer. In fact the cost of the journey from my home to my destination is £5 irrespective of whether the person being conveyed is accompanied by a guide or other assistance dog and it is illegal to charge extra for carrying assistance animals. I am tired having arisen early so fail to explain this to the driver (he should already be aware of the legislation which came into effect in 2002 and can be found here, http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2002/37/enacted). I give him £5 plus a tip and he goes on his merry way.

Had the company informed my driver that there was a visually impaired person with a guide dog requiring a cab would he, I wonder have picked me up? As it was he was (apparently) unaware of the presence of Trigger and having arrived decided to take Trigger and I to our destination. The law is a blunt, though a very necessary instrument and so far as the rights of assistance dog owners are concerned the legislation has greatly reduced the number of refusals to convey owners accompanied by their assistance animals. It is, however always in the back of my mind when calling a taxi, “will the driver and/or the company make an excuse that there are no drivers available when, in fact there are or will they (despite the law) refuse to convey Trigger and I”.