Smelly Flea Ridden Slobbering Dogs in Taxicabs? Have your say on the matter.

TAXI drivers who refuse to carry blind people with guide dogs face fines of up to $1100, the NSW Government warned today amid outrage at the biased practice.

Transport Minister John Watkins today warned of a crackdown on selective cabbies after he Daily Telegraph revealed some drivers were refusing to pick up guide dogs for "religious" reasons or because of allergies.

He said the government was committed to ensuring that all taxi drivers were aware of and complied with the law - and would consider changing the training program.

"I need to make the point very clear to the taxi industry and to taxi drivers. This is illegal, with a fine of up to $1,100," Mr Watkins told reporters in Newcastle.

"I've made sure the Ministry of Transport contacts the Taxi Council to remind their drivers of their responsibility.

"We'll also look at the education – all taxi drivers receive a session with a disability service advocate as part of their training.

"I also urge any patron that finds or comes across a refusal to travel, to report them."

A spokeswoman for Deputy Premier John Watkins said he would look into implementing better training programs in cooperation with the NSW Taxi Council.

A Guide Dogs NSW spokeswoman said the organisation had been providing information sessions for new taxi drivers for the past two years.

She said taxi drivers were often surprised to learn that carrying guide dogs in their vehicles was compulsory, and added there should be further measures to teach drivers already in the industry.

The treatment of the blind by some Sydney taxi drivers has been exposed by Human Rights and Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes, who is himself blind and reliant on his guide dog Jordie.

Mr Innes, whose high-powered role makes him a regular cab user, said he was refused service on average once a month, including twice in two days recently.

He has been told on a number of occasions that it would be against a driver's religion to allow a dog in the cab.

He has also been refused by drivers claiming to be allergic to dogs and even scared of dogs.

He has also been left clutching at air on busy Market St by one belligerent driver who told him he had to take the non-existent cab in front.

Mr Innes yesterday received the backing of Vision Australia (VA), which said taxi drivers refusing to carry blind passengers with guide dogs happened with "too much regularity".

VA's head of policy and advocacy Michael Simpson said the problem was worse in the Sydney metropolitan area where there were more drivers unwilling to carry dogs based on Muslim objections.

"It is fair to say that the (Islamic) religion has made the problem worse in the metropolitan areas than regional areas, where I've found taxi drivers are generally excellent," he said.

Mr Simpson, who has been blind for 30 years but uses a cane instead of a guide dog, said he was refused service at the airport because his two companions had dogs.

"We asked the driver for his accreditation number and he gave us the wrong one," he said.

"It was only because an airline staff member had accompanied us that we got the right number and could properly complain about being refused."

Mr Innes was compelled to speak out after The Daily Telegraph last week revealed how an intellectually impaired man had been slapped with $1000 in train fare evasion fines even though he cannot understand what the offence is.

He called for better training for all front-line public transport staff in NSW in dealing with disabled passengers.

"I'm a lawyer and I know exactly what my rights are so I force the issue but my concern is for those for whom a refusal can be a damaging experience and discouraging to their independence," Mr Innes.

NSW Taxi Council spokeswoman Tracey Caine said complaints about refusing guide dogs was rare.

"The problem has been much worse in Melbourne," she said.

Ms Caine said all NSW drivers were spoken to by disability advocates as part of their training and there had been a number of awareness campaigns in the industry publication, Meter Magazine: "It is illegal to refuse to take a guide dog and all drivers know it."

Vest say's there being two sides to the story it is also important to hear from cab drivers and actually listen to their argument too, there has to be a reason why some cab drivers refuse fares, let us hear what they have to say.


Anonymous said…
I am a cab driver
I am an Indian

i wont carry dogs
they dont tip
Keshi said…
**some drivers were refusing to pick up guide dogs for "religious" reasons or because of allergies.

thats slack. Then they should be in some other job.

Jay said…
I don't really think there are any acceptable excuses for not picking up a guide dog.
Anonymous said…
My NSW Government Dept receive quite a large number of complaints of this nature, most people complaining after several incidents.
Vest said…
This smacks of a; 'When in Rome' ruling is necessary.
Muslims and other loony members of a particular branch of the 'Faith Industry' who decide to break the law as it stands at present, must be made aware that, it is their civic duty as a cab driver, to serve the public as laid down in the laws governing the taxicab industry.
If Cab Drivers cannot or will not perform their duties to the letter of the law; due to allergy or religious beliefs, then they should find alternative employment.
I am suggesting that a fee should be paid by all cabs not wishing to carry certain passengers, and their cabs marked as such. The substantial fee (I suggest $100.00 per working week per non aligned cab)should then after expenses, be reimbursed to the cabs prepared to uphold the regulations, or better still given to Charitable organizations.
Anonymous said…
I don't know Vest... I am not sure that there are many plausable excuses that can be given by the taxi drivers for this one. It is not like the blind have these dogs with them as fashion statement. They need them!

I think that it would be just like a taxi driver not wanting to pick up a person with a baby, just in case they poop their nappy or they cry. It doesn't seem reasonable to refuse pick-up based on a much needed pair of eyes, especially in NSW.

It is also not as if the blind people are being too lazy to drive their own car and that is why they are catching a taxi. They are catching a taxi because it is one of the only forms of transport that they can use. Blind people have enough obstacles to deal with without limiting their transportation any further.

There's my two bits.

Have a great weekend.


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