COVID-19 Guidance for safer travel
The Government has now published advice for safer travel during COVID-19 as restrictions are eased. This is available on the NI Direct website.
Guidance about using taxis is yet to be published.
Taxi services have been disrupted during COVID-19 lockdown with less taxis on the road and restrictions on the numbers of passengers that can travel.
The Consumer Council website has more information about some taxi services in Belfast.
Taxis in Northern Ireland
There are four classes of taxis in Northern Ireland (Class A,B,C and D). The most common type of taxi is Class A. These are usually ordinary saloon cars booked from a taxi company. Class B taxis must be accessible to wheelchair users.
Booking a taxi
Most people book a taxi in Northern Ireland through a taxi company either by telephone using a smartphone app. It is best to let the company know about any accessibility requirements when you book a taxi.
There are taxi ranks in towns and cities across Northern Ireland where you may be able to get a taxi. All taxis that operate from ranks in Belfast City Centre must be accessible to wheelchair users.
In general you will find it difficult to hail a taxi in the street in Northern Ireland.
All taxi fares in Northern Ireland are regulated by the Government. This means you should not pay anymore than the Maximum Fare.
For more information about fares visit the NI Direct website.
Complaints about taxis
If you are unhappy about the service you have received from a taxi driver or company you can make a complaint to the Department for Infrastructure.
For more information about how to make a complaint about taxis visit the NI Direct website.
Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)
Under the DDA disabled people have rights when using taxiservices. Rights under the DDA mean:
- Taxi providers should not treat you less favourably than other passengers because of your disability.
- Taxi providers must also make changes called reasonable adjustments to help you use their services more easily.
- Taxi drivers cannot refuse to carry a passenger with an assistance dog or charge you more to do so (unless they have a medical exemption).
The Equality Commission
Using your rights under the DDA can be a challenge. The Equality Commission is the body responsible for promoting and enforcing the DDA in Northern Ireland and can give you advice about your rights when travelling by taxi.
Visit the Equality Commission website.
Most taxis in Northern Ireland are ordinary saloon cars. If you use mobility equipment that can be stored in the boot, drivers should assist you when travelling in these vehicles.
Wheelchair accessible taxis
There are a significant number of wheelchair accessible taxis in Northern Ireland. Because of the different makes and models and the age of taxis you may find some vehicles easier to use than others. Government has introduced changes that mean new wheelchair accessible taxis must meet improved accessibility requirements.
Despite the large number of vehicles disabled people in Northern Ireland are finding it more and more difficult to get a wheelchair accessible taxi when they need one. The best advice at the minute is to phone around companies and to talk to other disabled people about drivers and companies that provide a good service.
Travelling with an assistance dog
All taxi drivers are required by law to carry your assistance dog. The only exception is where a driver has a medical exemption.
All drivers are required to undertake disability awareness training as part of their licensing.
Drivers must provide you with reasonable assistance to help you use their services. Examples of assistance include:
- Letting you know they have arrived – not blaring their horn!
- Providing you with assistance to get and out of the vehicle.
- Where possible, storing mobility equipment in their boot (at no extra cost).
- If you are a wheelchair user, the driver must use the correct equipment including ramps, tie downs and seat belts to ensure you travel in comfort and safety.
- Being patient and allowing you time to access the service or to be understood if you have difficulties with communication.
Limits to assistance
There are some limits to the assistance that can be provided. Drivers should never lift you or heavy mobility equipment.