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Blind People in York Suffer as Taxi Scheme is Cut


7:30am 19th May 2014
(Updated 8:05am 19th May 2014)

A blind charity and opposition councillors are concerned about the issue in York.

The 63-thousand pound Taxicard scheme was cut in February, with York Council blaming the government cuts.

Opposition party Liberal Democrats and the York Blind and Partially Sighted Society is worried that the change is harming the lives of blind people.

The city council says only 14% of those who had the card used more than half their entitlement.

It says dial-a-ride services and bus passes for companions are available to help those in need.

Andrew Bradley, Sustainable Transport Manager at City of York Council, said:

“It was a difficult decision to discontinue the Taxicard scheme. A review of the Taxicard scheme established that only fourteen per cent of cardholders used half or more of their annual entitlement. For this reason, the significant annual administration cost required to support the scheme was difficult to justify, especially in light of the year-on-year reduced funding for the council.

“The council supports a range of measures to assist people with disabilities to travel including the popular Dial & Ride service and the provision of companion bus passes for people with severe disabilities.  
“All card holders were notified that the scheme would be stopping and were made aware of alternative options which included free off-peak travel on local buses and half-fare travel on York’s Dial & Ride services.
“People with severe disabilities can apply for a companion pass, which permits another person to travel with the pass-holder to provide assistance during the journey.”

Cllr Lynn Jeffries, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Equalities and Westfield Councillor, commented:

"The Taxicard was there to help residents who were unable to use buses. It is therefore unacceptable that the card has been removed and the only option offered to these residents is a bus pass. Many blind or disabled people are simply unable to use buses and therefore the loss of the Taxicard is a huge personal blow.

"Labour should not have cut this service for vulnerable residents while wasting money elsewhere on city-centre vanity projects. Lib Dem budget plans showed that there was an alternative. However, after cutting the service it is completely wrong that Labour have not done more to help those affected. I don't believe the council has made so-called reasonable adjustment to help these people to still get around."

Diane Roworth, Chief Officer of the York Blind and Partially Sighted Society, commented:

“We know that there are some blind and partially sighted people who are unable to use buses, which is why they chose to have a Taxicard. With the removal of the card, their ability to travel in York will be severely restricted and their quality of life reduced markedly. 

“An enormous amount of money is, quite rightly, being spent on improving bus services, but there are many people with sight and mobility impairments who simply cannot take advantage of these improvements.  We need to ensure equal access to transport for everyone, including people who have the greatest difficulty in travelling.”

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