Transport campaigners have condemned “cuts” to the London Taxicard scheme which they say will restrict the scheme’s usefulness for many members.
The scheme, funded by local authorities and Transport for London and managed by London Councils, provides subsidised travel in taxis and private hire vehicles for people with serious mobility impairments.
Members of the scheme are issued with a card which can be ‘swiped’ by the taxi driver, reducing the cost of the journey to £1.50 for a limited number of journeys per year.
Precise benefits vary between boroughs but campaigners at Transport for All say changes which came into effect this week will reduce the number of permitted trips to 104 per year and increase the subsidised fare to £2.50 per journey.
The maximum pre-discount fare which can be incurred will also decrease by £2 and “most” boroughs are reportedly ending the practice of ‘double swiping’ which allows users to doubling the discounted distance they can travel.
Lianna Etkind, Campaigns Coordinator at Transport for All, described the reductions in the scheme’s benefits as “a real kick in the teeth for older and disabled people” and said the it was “an immensely popular service because it’s so essential.”
Etkind added: “Millions of pounds has been invested into making London’s businesses, shops and public buildings more accessible. If disabled and older Londoners are denied the transport to get there, this has been wasted”.
A spokesperson for London Councils denied the scheme’s budget was being cut and said “the increasing popularity of the scheme has meant that it now costs more than the available budget in 2010/11.”
On the issue of charges the spokesperson said these “have not increased for at least 10 years” and stressed the decision of whether to continue permitting ‘double swiping’ would be taken by each borough.
The spokesperson added: “Taxicard is a discretionary scheme which boroughs would like to continue. Measures recommended by our Transport and Environment Committee are necessary to protect the scheme to ensure the service can continue for the rest of the financial year.”