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THE hurdles that disabled people face in getting a taxi in Maroondah could soon be a thing of the past if proposed changes to the booking system get through.
The changes to bookings involve the creation of a statewide central system that can be used by people with disabilities.
A draft report released earlier this year into the state of Melbourne’s taxi industry found a dearth of wheelchair-friendly taxi services.
The report by Professor Allan Fels found that people requiring such taxis had to sometimes wait longer than three hours and drivers were discourteous and took circuitous routes when a passenger couldn’t object.
The report recommended creating one booking service, which could be used by disabled people. Heathmont resident Woody Marriott is right behind the idea.
Mr Marriott, the co-founder of Disability Action Group - Eastern Region, said the main issues in Maroondah he saw were drivers who were indifferent and reluctant.
‘‘There are not that many issues, really. It’s delays in coming, mainly. Also not having space in the boot for a walker and difficulty with putting a walker on back seats,’’ he said.
The draft report also recommends that all drivers of disabled people undertake necessary training.
‘‘I think there’s a need for educating good and empathetic drivers, especially about assisting people,’’ Mr Marriott said.
Doug Clark, a contributor to the taxi inquiry, said it was now a matter of looking at suitable locations for the central booking office to be located.
He said a new group made up of people with disabilities , Transit Solutions Victoria Inc, had been formed.
‘‘It’s really the disabled people taking hold of their own destiny rather than relying on other groups,’’ he said. ‘‘Woody and (Woody’s wife) Carol have been instrumental in setting up this new system. We are now looking for members to get this up and running.’’
Maroondah Council made a joint submission to the inquiry as part of the Eastern Transport Coalition, which is made up of six other eastern metropolitan councils.
The ETC submission supported a move
to increase ‘pre-booked only’ taxis and introduce a access travel pass, both of which
would help disabled people.
The submission also supported the restructuring of country and metropolitan zone boundaries and the ability of taxis to use bus lanes.
‘‘Since the ETC lodged its submission in July, there has been ongoing discussion between the councils and the taxi industry inquiry,’’ Maroondah city development director Phil Turner said.
‘‘The council will continue to work with the ETC and the taxi industry inquiry to work towards a positive outcome for our residents.’’
Public submissions to the inquiry have closed.