A disabled woman has won an out of court settlement after she claimed she was charged more to use an accessible taxi than a non-disabled person.
Nicola Nesbit, who has cerebral palsy, claimed that Belfast taxi firm Value Cabs charged her an £8 call-out fee in addition to fare-and-a-half on a taxi journey taking her to hospital during her pregnancy.
The taxi firm paid Mrs Nesbit £2,000 without admission of liability and the case was supported by the Equality Commission.
Mrs Nesbit, who has been a wheelchair user since birth, said she was delighted with the |outcome.
“I was outraged, as I felt that I was being treated differently because I am disabled.
“I think it is important that all disabled people are aware that it is not fair to charge a disabled person more than an able-bodied person for the same journey in the same vehicle, and that is why I decided to take this to court,” she said.
The south Belfast woman normally travels by bus, but had to take a taxi to travel to hospital |appointments.
She alleged that because it was a wheelchair accessible vehicle, she was charged an extra fee of £8, bringing her total fare to around £14 for a short, one-way journey.
Anne McKernan, director of legal services with the Equality Commission, said the law did not allow transport providers to charge disabled customers a higher price for the same journey in the same vehicle.
“The Disability Transport Regulations require transport providers to make reasonable adjustments so that disabled people can have access to a service as close as it is reasonably possible to get to the standard normally offered to the general public,” she said.
“The law does not allow a transport provider to charge its disabled customers a higher price for the same journey in the same vehicle.
“The fare for the larger vehicle should be the same for everyone.
“The costs of making reasonable adjustments are part of a transport provider’s general expenses, just the same as complying with any other legislation.”
Value Cabs has agreed to liaise with the Equality Commission to review its policies and procedures, which its believes to be compliant with the law and implement any reasonable recommendations made by the commission.
A spokesman for the Equality Commission said that before the introduction of the Disability Transport Regulations, which came into force in 2010, a case such as Mrs Nesbit's could not have been taken.
“We've had a few calls of people complaining about taxis but this is the only one that has come to this.
“Disability Transport Regulations are relatively new and previously you couldn't have taken a case like that,” he said.