A DISABILITY officer has highlighted the “continuous complaints” made to the Cork City Partnership about the lack of wheelchair accessible taxis in the city.
Donie O’Leary told The Echo of how taxi drivers lack resources to accommodate wheelchair users, which often leaves disabled people stranded.
He said: “We are still hearing continuous complaints about taxis and the excuses are things like ‘our wheelchair accessible taxi doesn’t come on in the mornings’.
“So if someone is going to a hospital appointment or work they have no guarantee they’ll have a taxi.”
While for most people it as simple as jumping into a taxi and setting off on your journey, it’s not as easy for those who rely on a wheelchair to get around.
One of the many obstacles they face is trying to locate a taxi that can accommodate both the passenger and their wheelchair.
Mr O’Leary, the disability officer with the Cork City Partnership, feels that drivers don’t want the extra work of having to help passengers into their taxi and then the wheelchair, only to earn the same fare from an able-bodied customer with less hassle.
“In commercial terms, it’s faster with an able-bodied person, getting the same money, from the same journey. Some taxi drivers have not been good to respond when needed,” said Mr O’Leary.
In 2017, Mr O’Leary arranged for then Lord Mayor, Des Cahill, to venture around Cork City in a wheelchair so as to experience the problems first hand.
One of the standout moments was when the councillor was kept waiting over twenty minutes for a wheelchair-friendly taxi to arrive.
Mr O’Leary said: “The experience of the Mayor was significant because we didn’t say it was the Mayor.
“If we had said it, I have no doubt we would have had a taxi in five minutes.”
Despite meeting with taxi representatives in the past to try and improve the situation, it remains one of the main setbacks in making Cork City a fully accessible place for those reliant on wheelchairs.