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Looking for private taxi for large wheelchair in London

Helene64 Community member Posts: 5 Listener
I have been trying the last 2 weeks to find a company who can take me in my wheelchair to my embassy in Central London on the 19th December so I can get a new passport. I have a slightly wider, taller manual wheelchair and would prefer to stay in the chair - but if I should transfer I need a swivel seat that comes out and the seat in the car must have ample legroom. So far I am getting nowhere.

I live in East London and need to travel 9.2 miles so Dial-A-Ride won't take me. I have a London Taxi Card too, and I can book with them (can just about squeeze into a ComCab), but they don't guarantee to come on the day, and I don't know how many appointments I have missed the last couple of years because they simply haven't turned up as they have not found a driver. I have also been stranded for hours going home as there has been no driver available for the return. I have an appointment at the embassy and can't be late, they have given me the last appointment that day (2pm) and will close when I am finished so if I don't get picked up I am left outside on the pavement. I have to trust that whoever I am booking with will turn up - and I don't trust ComCab for this.

And then there is the issue with seat belts, in a Black Cab, wheelchairs are not strapped in as there are no belts. Every time I go to hospital I get hospital transport and I am safely strapped in. I don't really like going for such a long journey without wearing a seatbelt and I find it strange that Black Cabs are allowed to transport us like that - but I do use them for the few times I have to go and see my GP and dentist which is close to my house. One of the private hire companies I was in touch with said they were not insured to take me as they could not offer seatbelts for wheelchair users. 

Apart from hospital and other medical appointments I have been housebound for many years since giving up my Motability car so I have no experience with booking hire cars for wheelchair users. Can any of you please help with suggesting a company I can contact?
Anyone have any experience in getting around by hire car?
I have all the measurements for my wheelchair and me if anyone wants them.
Thanks ever so much.
Best wishes,


  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,671 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Helene64
    Welcome to the community, how frustrating for you.  I found this information, I know you say you don't trust com cab but have you tried the others?

    Taxi company
    Contact details
    Areas served
    One-Number Taxi0871 871 8710All London

    Computer Cab

    0207 908 0207 
    Credit/debit card bookings: 0207 432 1432
    Cash bookings: 0207 908 0207
    Comcab bookings

    All London
    Dial-A-Cab020 7253 5000All London
    Radio Taxis020 7272 0272All London
    Clapham Common taxi rank (SW4)
    0800 118 2494
    Clapham Common and surrounding areas.
    Southside Centre taxi rank (SW18)

    0800 211 8087

    Wandsworth Southside Centre and surrounding areas
    Sutton taxi rank (SM2)
    0800 118 2192
    Sutton and surrounding areas.
    Taxi Call Wimbledon020 8099 7711Immediate hiring: Wimbledon and surrounding areas
    Centre Court Wimbledon Taxi Rank

    0800 211 8914

    Wimbledon and surrounding areas

    Senior online community officer
  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,671 Disability Gamechanger
    You can search a local minicab using this form too.
    Senior online community officer
  • Helene64
    Helene64 Community member Posts: 5 Listener
    Thank you Sam_Scope for replying to me, I live in Plaistow in East London, sorry should probably have said that in my initial post.

    I was looking for private hire car/taxi so that I could book in advance and be guaranteed a car on the day, with the companies you suggest it would probably be the same as with ComCab - so even though you can book as many days in advance as you want, they won't allocate a driver to you until about 20 minutes before your pickup time and if there is no driver around - or no one who can be bothered when they see on the system that it is a wheelchair passenger - then no car will turn up.

    As for mini cab - that's out of the question, I won't be able to transfer to a normal car seat - I simply can't get out of a normal car.

    I have been in contact with a company that claim on their website that they take wheelchair passengers, but after a couple of emails to them it turns out that their Mercedes Vito is 22cm too low for me to have headroom enough to sit in my wheelchair, and when I asked if they had a seatbelt to strap me in they suddenly found out they could not take me as they had no seatbelts for wheelchair so their insurance would not cover me. I wonder what they do with all those with smaller wheelchairs that actually fit in their cars - they still won't be covered by their insurance...

    Anyway, the search goes on, I have emailed DialACab and Gett (Radio Taxis on your list) - with my wheelchair measurements, let's see what they say.
    Computer Cab on your list is the same as ComCab which I have already been in touch with - and I am already a customer with - and have been stranded with so many times before.
    The One-Number-Taxi on your list is just a portal for the 3 companies above so makes no difference as to contacting them directly.

    I am still looking for a private hire company with a large enough vehicle to fit me in my wheelchair, if anyone has experience with any companies here in London I would appreciate contact details and your experience with them.
    Here are measurements for my wheelchair:
    When I am sitting in the chair:
    Total length: 140cm (including leg rests which can be folded down when entering and exiting the car)
    Chair height: 100cm
    Total height: 145cm (although I can bend forward getting through the door opening if necessary)
    Chair total width: 74cm
    Wheel width: 67cm

    Best wishes,
  • Pippa_Alumni
    Pippa_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,793 Disability Gamechanger
    edited November 2017
    I wonder if @geegee could offer any suggestions for the above? 
  • mossycow
    mossycow Scope Member Posts: 500 Pioneering
    I'm 8n London on Thursday with my wheelchair. I'll ask about and pop back.... Following this thread as it's a nightmare! 
  • Helene64
    Helene64 Community member Posts: 5 Listener
    Hi again
    I had an appointment with my local NHS wheelchair service today, thought I would ask them if they knew what other people do for transport as during assessment we often talk about a lot of different things around how to cope etc.
    The answer was an abrupt 'Don't know, we don't do transport.'
    Me: Yes I know you don't do transport, I was just interested in hearing how other people cope with getting around in a wheelchair.
    Them: 'Don't know, we don't do transport.'
    .....oh well, at least I tried....

    However, I had a ComCab to and from my appointment - and they turned up - on time. Yay! - and I had an interesting conversation with the driver going home. There are no seatbelts for me in a Black Cab as my wheelchair is too wide and too long to use the seatbelts behind the flap seat (with a passenger seat turned up) - to be honest, you need to have a very small wheelchair, like one of those transfer wheelchairs they use in hospitals and airports in order to fit into a Black Cab the normal way. I need to have my wheelchair across and I fill the whole space that way so no one can use the other seats.
    I asked the driver what would happen if we had an accident since I am not wearing a seatbelt. Would I be covered by his insurance? He said he didn't know, he had no idea. And then he said I should probably not call ComCab and ask because they would probably then refuse to take me in the future and then I would have no one who would take me out every time Dial-A-Ride has no available journeys (which is most of the time)!
    I asked the driver if it was only me who had to have my chair across and therefore not get strapped in, but he said most wheelchair passengers would be riding like me in his car, and therefore not be using a seatbelt on themselves or on their chair.

    I feel safe whenever I go to hospital, strapped to the floor in a transport ambulance - but I don't feel much safe in the back of a Black Cab, skidding around every time we turn a corner. But regardless of how I feel - is it legal, and are we covered by insurance? What if there was a horrific crash and severe injuries?
    What do you guys think?

    I still haven't found a solution for my appointment on the 19th December, but I have heard rumours that Dial-A-Ride now have opened for longer journeys than 5 miles so calling them is on my to-do list. No point calling them until Tuesday next week because I can't book until 2 weeks before travel. I have not much hope getting a 9.2 miles return journey with them but at least I can try calling them...

    If anyone else would like to chip in with their experience travelling with a wheelchair in London - good or bad - or just want to moan a bit - feel free :-)
    Take care,
  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,671 Disability Gamechanger
    I have asked on twitter @Helene64 and will feedback any responses :)
    Senior online community officer
  • Geoark
    Geoark Community member Posts: 1,467 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @Helene64 and welcome to the community.

    Try Network Express, it provides mini cab services but has vehicles specifically for wheelchairs. http://www.networkminicabs.co.uk/Wheelchair-Accessibility.html 

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • Helene64
    Helene64 Community member Posts: 5 Listener
    Thanks @Geoark, I have sent them an email and asked if their minibus have space for me, waiting for a reply.
  • Helene64
    Helene64 Community member Posts: 5 Listener
    edited December 2017
    Hello again
    Just an update on my quest to find transport for 19th December.
    I sent off a request form to Dial-A-Ride, it is a 9.2 miles journey from my house to the embassy where I have an appointment to renew my passport, well over the 5 miles limit Dial-A-Ride usually have, but I have heard that they now open for longer journeys. So off my request form went...and I heard nothing. It annoys me a bit that they can't even send a one line email back when they can't take you, they just don't reply. That's how you know you don't get transport with them. I don't know how many times I have tried boking with them where I have just sat here for 2 days waiting...will I get a journey or not?....finally, nope, no answer so no journey this time either.
    I tried phoning them today so I could ask about longer journeys and what rules apply, but there was just an answer machine saying they were too busy to answer the phone. On their booking line! I don't mind waiting to get through, but I hate it when I am being cut off like that and there is no other option, I had already used their online option and got nowhere. So much for customer service.

    OK, so can't rely on Dial-A-Ride this time either, but what about Network Express that @Geoark suggested? I sent them an email last Sunday with all details about the journey and the measurements of my wheelchair. Heard nothing by Friday afternoon so I called them. The guy at the booking office knew nothing of my email, could not check if my wheelchair would fit in their vehicles and said anyone booking with them had to do it one month in advance. ONE MONTH! Hardly a taxi service....

    So what am I left with? I have had a chat with one of the BlackCab drivers I have used before, I got his mobile number from one of the other drivers. He came to my house 2 days ago and we had a trial with my chair. It turns out all BlackCab drivers have separate belts in their boot to strap in wheelchairs or luggage into the seatbelts attached to the flap seats as an extension. So I can sit in my wheelchair like I usually do (across) and my wheelchair CAN be strapped in. No one has ever told me or offered me to do that, I suppose they just haven't been bothered. In addition to the chair being strapped in, I will use the wheelchair seatbelt and that way I will be safe and secure. Great!

    As for the booking, I am not doing it through ComCab, I have booked it directly with the driver, he has promised to turn up and he will wait for me to take me back. If I had booked through ComCab I would not have been guaranteed getting a car on the day as they often don't allocate a driver until 20 minutes before and I have often got a phone call from ComCab saying they haven't found me a driver when booking, even daytime in the week. So booking directly with the driver should guarantee me a driver on the day. Fingers crossed.

    And finally, what will it cost me? A 9.2 miles journey with waiting for 20-30 minutes while I am inside to submit my paperwork and then return home: £150. In addition comes the cost of the passport. I guess a new passport will be my Christmas present to myself this year.

    I hardly ever leave my house except for going to hospital appointments where I get hospital transport, but every now and then I have to make necessary journeys - and will be in the future. If anyone can recommend any companies that you have ACTUALLY USED either for yourself or for family/friends or as a carer etc within London, please post below with details.

    Thanks to everyone following this post.
    Take care,
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