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How Do We Get Home?

April 10, 2012

Last Friday, I asked the London Taxicard service a simple question. A question I have asked them several times before. How many trips do I have left?

The answer? 52. The next question: When is that up to? Here comes the unpleasant surprise: That’s for the whole year.

Fifty-two trips a year? That’s one trip a week, I thought. That can’t be right.

That means that I can’t book a return journey using the Taxicard service- at least not unless I only use it once in two weeks.

Surely they can’t be expecting disabled people to only leave their houses once in two weeks? When I started on the scheme almost 5 years ago, I was told the trips could be used for social or medical reasons. At the time, I was given 104 trips per year.

For a start, I have weekly medical appointments. If I was to need to use the service to get to these under the current rules, how would I get home? And, only slightly less importantly, how would I ever have any sort of an independent social life if I used up all my trips on medical appointments?

Further research last night revealed that my London borough has halved Taxicard trips per year from 1st April 2012 for “members who also hold either or both a Freedom Pass or a Blue Badge.”

 

This discovery answered my questions. I have a Blue Badge.

 

However, the suggestion that a Blue Badge should entitle you to less Taxicard trips is madness. Blue Badges only entitle you to park within walking distance of wherever you want to go. I know there are other advantages but sadly, 24 hour access to a car is not one of them! I still can’t drive or use public transport without company. I carry my Blue Badge with me and use it in the car of whoever I happen to be with.

 

When I started using the Taxicard scheme it gave me a whole new and wonderful level of freedom. I could now get a cheap lift to the cinema or to a friend’s house. It significantly reduced the need for my parents to drive me around town- and for that reason it has become a valuable part of my life.

 

Now I am being told that just because I hold a Blue Badge I can either only leave my house independently once in two weeks or, if I choose to leave independently once a week, I still need to drag one of my parents out of the house to pick me up when the movie finishes or when my friends need me to leave their houses.

 

Where is the very independence that the Taxicard scheme was set up to allow? How is leaving the house once in two weeks a free, independent social life for any young person? And without these unreasonable restrictions, if we wish to keep our independence, how do we get home?

 

I am thinking of starting a campaign of this title and am looking for support- let me know if you would sign a petition on this topic, join a Facebook group or have any other suggestions about how we can get this very important issue noticed.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2012 3:07 pm

    Sarah – I’ll sign the petition, join Facebook Group etc.

    Andy Bradford

  2. flashsays permalink
    April 10, 2012 6:50 pm

    Which borough are you in? I am just hoping this doesn’t apply to me too. When I need to visit hospitals in town, I need a taxi to my nearest accessible station, then get the tube to Waterloo or London Bridge before another taxi to the hospital itself. The same in reverse to get home. That would be a month of journeys in one day! As I am awaiting referral to a clinic which I will have to attend weekly for at least 6 weeks, that would use up half a year of trips. Eek! Plus, although I don’t venture more than a couple of miles from home to socialize (if I’m on my own) I still use taxis to get home. That would have to stop, so I can save the trips for medical visits. I’m not impressed at all. I can only hope you and I are in different boroughs…

  3. Peter Clutton permalink
    April 10, 2012 6:51 pm

    Count on me and my family in this Sarah, talk about discrimination. @PeterClutton

  4. samedifference1 permalink*
    April 10, 2012 9:23 pm

    Flashsays- I’m in Harrow- but unfortunately there are several boroughs that have made the changes so ask Comcab on the number you phone how many trips you have left for this year…

    The campaign petition and Facebook group launch after midnight…

  5. April 11, 2012 2:10 pm

    Hi Sarah re-post this on Channel 4’s No Go Britain – I’m sure they will be interested as it’s transport related….
    https://www.facebook.com/nogobritain

  6. samedifference1 permalink*
    April 11, 2012 2:15 pm

    Many thanks for info Julia!

  7. April 13, 2012 6:15 pm

    Great points, I like your site. I will look at the facebook page. I blog personally and work for Go4M a user-led disabled peoples organisation in Merton. I’m not a taxicard user, but friends have told me they haven’t received any notification of trip limits this year, so no idea what our Borough has been up to.

  8. Murtaza Jivanjee permalink
    April 21, 2012 7:09 pm

    Thanks for keeping in touch. My support is 100 percent.

  9. Farrah Jivanjee permalink
    April 21, 2012 7:12 pm

    Talk about Fair and Just society. Count on me Sarah.

  10. samedifference1 permalink*
    April 21, 2012 7:13 pm

    Thank you both. Campaign now started Farrah- How Do We Get Home Facebook page.

  11. Zeenat Jivanjee permalink
    April 21, 2012 7:14 pm

    Hello Sarah. Your efforts are most commendable. You have all my support.

  12. samedifference1 permalink*
    April 21, 2012 7:16 pm

    Thank you very much.

  13. F.Dawoodkhan permalink
    April 23, 2012 2:37 pm

    Dear Sarah

    I absolutely agree with you, why should the possession of a blue badge reduce your taxi journeys by half? The benefit of mobillity for the disabled and the retired (through the freedom pass) is enormous, although it cannot be quantified easily. The problem is that officials in town halls fail to see the bigger picture. If they could cut down wastage in town halls that should make some of the cuts unnecessary.

    I wish you every success.

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