A TAXI firm will no longer take fares from wheelchair-bound passengers after being banned from charging extra, it emerged last night.
Boro Taxis, based in Middlesbrough, told the BBC it “could not afford” to send minibuses to pick up disabled passengers while charging them the same as able-bodied persons.
Taxi firms across the town were warned earlier this week by Middlesbrough Council they would be breaking discrimination laws – and could lose their licence – if they overcharged disabled passengers.
The letter came as it emerged some taxi firms were charging disabled passengers double that of able-bodied passengers.
Mohammed Bashir of Boro Taxis could not be contacted for comment today (Sunday) but earlier told BBC Tees: “The simple fact is if you order a car and four people jump in you are charged for a taxi.
“If you order an eight-seater minibus and eight people jump in you are charged for a minibus.
"If you order a minibus and there’s only one person you will still be charged for a minibus because that’s what you ordered. But because we are charging for a minibus we are breaking the law.”
He admitted the move was “morally totally wrong” but said it was not economically viable to keep picking up disabled customers in minibuses.
Middlesbrough Council is looking into whether discrimination laws are being breached.
Last week it wrote to all operators warning them that to charge disabled customers more than able-bodied customers would breach the Equality Act.
The council has authority to set fares for Hackney carriages but not private hire vehicles, which are decided by market forces.
Licensing officers will be “checking compliance” over the next few months to see if customers are facing discrimination.