Fair hikes for disabled taxi scheme

ELDERLY and disabled people in Newham are up in arms over plans to double concessionary taxi fares.

The outcry came after Newham Council said that it would raise minimum fares for the TaxiCard service from �1 to �2 as of January. The price hike will affect more than 10,000 people.

TaxiCard users are given 40 advanced booking trips per month to pay for a tax ride of up to �23, with Newham Council and Transport for London (TfL) providing a combined subsidy of up to �22 per journey. Under changes to the system, the subsidy is being cut to �16.

The council is also scrapping a double swiping card option that allows travellers to use two trips in one journey if they go beyond their fare limit. Service users have said they could be left isolated.

London Councils recommended alterations to the scheme in order to keep costs within budget after TaxiCard user numbers surged.

A spokeswoman for Newham Council said: “Newham Council continues to see demand for the TaxiCard scheme grow. Since April this year the council has accepted almost 400 new members.”

She added: “Unfortunately TfL, who fund the majority of the scheme, cannot increase its budget and has put a cap on how much it gives.”

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The changes affect all local authorities in the capital.

Added the spokeswoman: “If this action weren’t taken it could lead to the temporary suspension of the scheme, something no-one wants.”

However , four councils – Camden, Hillingdon, Richmond Upon Thames and Sutton – have pledged to make no alterations to their services.