THE CHAIRMAN of a disability association claims that some Watford taxi firms are ‘reluctant’ to pick up passengers with assistance animals.
Leigh Hutchings of Disability Watford said he feels “let down” that he is often asked if he has a guide dog with him when he rings up to book a cab journey.
Mr Hutchings is registered blind, has been a guide dog owner for 20 years and believes transport should be accessible to all people with assistance animals. He said:
When I try to order a taxi, they ask me if I have my assistance dog with me, or make me wait until there is another available driver willing to drive me home. There really do need to be improvements made to taxi services in Watford. It is quite frightening that people with disabilities may not leave their homes because they are afraid there will be no transport to take them back.
“Since getting my assistance dog, I have noticed how much difference it makes to travelling around town every day, as it adds so much time onto my journey. It really is not good enough.”
Shafiq Ahmed, chairman of Watford Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, said: “Taxi drivers caught refusing people with assistance dogs should be condemned.
“I can only apologise to the Watford Disability association on behalf of the trade if any taxi driver refused an assistance guide dog job. This does not reflect in anyway the majority of the well behaved competent taxi drivers.
“However, disabled groups need to be informed that there are also private hire and Uber cars who also work in Watford and they should not be confused with taxis.”
Mr Ahmed added:
All taxi drivers are fully aware it is an offence to refuse a guide dog job, although some drivers have issues due to allergies.I will further inform and highlight this issue to all drivers on our forum.