FORMAL action is being taken against two private hire drivers in Reading who refused to carry guide dogs in their vehicles as part of a ‘test purchase’ exercise.
On 3 July 2018, a joint exercise by Reading Borough Council Licensing officers and the Guide Dogs for the Blind compliance team saw a total of 10 vehicles in Reading tested to see whether they would carry guide / assistance dogs or refuse.
The test consisted of a blind customer with a guide dog and a second sighted person requesting a journey from The Penta Hotel to Reading Railway Station and back. Of the five hackney carriage and five private hire vehicles tested, two private hire drivers refused to take the guide/assistance dogs as part of the fare. The other eight drivers all accepted the fare.
Formal action is now being taken against the two drivers who refused the fare.
Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said: “Both hackney carriage and private hire drivers have a responsibility to accept fares requested by blind passengers with guide dogs and I am pleased that eight out of the ten taxi drivers accepted the fares. Formal action will now be taken against the two private hire drivers who refused on the basis they would not carry the assistance dogs in their vehicles. All drivers should also be aware similar test purchases will take place in the future.”
Clive Wood, Engagement Officer, Guide Dogs Reading Mobility Team, said: “Guide Dogs are pleased to work in partnership with Reading Council to raise awareness amongst the Reading taxi community on the legal requirement to allow guide dogs in their vehicles. There are still a significant number of guide dog owners being refused access to taxis across the UK and we welcome any initiative to stop this. We also know that there are many taxi drivers who provide a great service to blind and partially sighted people, including guide dog owners and we hope this will be the norm very soon.”
For more information on Guide Dogs Readign Mobility Team, visit www.guidedogs.org.uk/how-you-can-help/fundraise/local-to-you/reading-mobility-team