Wheelchair taxi comparison (Alex Morris, CFA, Senior Regional Executive – Australia & New Zealand):
If there is anything I’ve learned over the years working with disabled people, it is that the term ‘wheelchair’ is irrelevant when comparing transport needs. Consider the case of my colleague Richard. He is seriously ill, and depends on his wife to transfer him from a hospital bed in a shared hospital room to a taxi, which then transfers him to his bed at home.
The taxi carries Richard from his home to the hospital, where he is transferred onto a wheelchair. From the hospital the taxi picks Richard up again to take him home again. In the early morning of one such trip, the taxi driver pushed Richard out of the hospital at around 5am. I watched, slightly horrified, from the car as Richard was wheeled out of the hospital at such a pace and speed that the driver struggled to keep up, in what appeared to be an effort to speed up the transfer.
It was not the transfer itself that made me feel sick. It was the fact that this passenger, who was relying on a 輪椅的士比較 and a taxi to move from a hospital bed to a wheelchair at home, was barely moving. The wheelchair taxi driver simply carried Richard to the taxi, wheeled him into the taxi, and then returned him to his hospital bed.
The taxi didn’t offer Richard any room for manoeuvre. If he had been healthy enough, perhaps the wheelchair taxi driver would have offered him a seat in the wheelchair taxi. But Richard was seriously ill, and unable to move easily.
Under the Transport Opportunities Bill, a person who is medically unfit to move themselves from a bed to a wheelchair at home will be able to travel on a wheelchair taxi if the wheelchair taxi driver agrees. While this is a welcome step forward, the amendments made to the Transport Opportunities Bill by Labor and the Greens do not match what we are proposing, and even raise the issue of preferential treatment of taxi drivers to carry passengers in wheelchairs.