Woman aggrieved by night taxi snub

RHIANNON MCCONNELL
Last updated 12:14 05/08/2014
Carole Williams
RHIANNON McCONNELL/Fairfax NZ

NO RIDE: Carole Williams and her husband, Maurice.

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For most night owls, a taxi ride is just a phone call away, but not for Porirua residents in wheelchairs.

An Elsdon paraplegic missed a 50th birthday party after a Porirua taxi company booked her a mobility van, but later told her they did not do evening pick- ups.

On July 26, Carole Williams booked a van with Porirua Taxis for 7.15pm to take her to a party in Cannons Creek, but it never showed.

When Williams called, after the pick-up time, she was told there had been a mistake and that the mobility vans did not run past 5pm. The job shouldn't have been booked, Williams was told.

"It really got me upset. I just couldn't go [to the party]," she said.

"It turned into a very disappointing night."

Williams, 42, has cerebral palsy and has been in a wheelchair her whole life. She said this was the first time she had had problems with the taxis because she did not often go out at night.

"I have got no van or driver to get anywhere. I have to rely on the taxis. A mobility taxi should be like the standard taxis."

Her husband, Maurice, said he was furious because it meant disabled people could not have a night life.

"I really think it stinks. That's discrimination against disabled people. Any other person could get a taxi at three or four in the morning. It shouldn't be. They are human beings and should be allowed out," he said.

The couple, who have two children, worry about what would happen in an emergency.

When Kapi-Mana News called Porirua Taxis, we were told the mobility vans were only available until 6pm.

But manager Raj Gordon said it was driver error that led to Williams being left at home.

"It was the driver's fault. There is no such policy for the company. I apologise for the behaviour of my driver. I am pretty sad [Williams] couldn't get a taxi in the night time. It's just a driver excuse," he said.

He said the company had five mobility van drivers and four vans.

Wellington Combined Taxis said it also provided mobility vans until 6pm, but, if given enough notice, would attempt to organise one for later.

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- Kapi-Mana News

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