Aberdeen charity fights for disability taxi subsidy
Next week in Aberdeen, a cross-party group of councillors – arranged by Aberdeen-based disability charity Future Choices – will meet to discuss the possibility of restoring the city’s Taxi Card scheme.
Formerly, Aberdeen City Council provided Taxi Cards to disabled passengers, to subsidise their journey. Alongside the scrapping of a popular Dial-a-Bus service, budget cuts forced the cancellation of the scheme in 2010. Now, local volunteers are campaigning to bring it back.
Future Choices help around 50 disabled people in Aberdeen each week, providing a weekly club and a range of activities. At the heart of the effort to bring back the Taxi Card is its chairman, David Forbes.
“It’s been seven years since Taxi Card got taken away,” Forbes stated, “and look at what’s changed.” Affordable taxi rides have become a service that’s more vital than ever before, in light of welfare cuts to disability services in recent years.
The Taxi Card scheme, if reintroduced, is anticipated to cost between £300,000 and £500,000 per annum.
Councillors have already said that they hold insufficient funds to cover the service’s daily expenditure, but Future Choices hope to arrive at a compromise that’s favourable for all. ”We can have a discussion,” Forbes said, “rather than throwing it out the window.”
The full extent of Aberdeen’s transport problems was revealed in a 2013 white paper, which surveyed the city’s residents and found that a shocking 45% of respondents were negatively impacted upon by Taxi Card’s removal.
Forbes recognised that one argument against the scheme’s reintroduction might be “that disabled people have got bus passes.” However, for Forbes it’s a pure question of access: “some bus stops aren’t in the places they need to be,” he said.