Wheelchair-accessible cab hire and hoist costs hurting Wagga residents

Wheelchair-reliant residents are being slugged more than $11 to hire a taxi, but this does not include an additional hoist cost, according to one Riverina woman.   

Jeanette McCormack had planned to take her 95-year-old mum to Victory Memorial Gardens for a pie last week.

But after discovering what the price would be, Ms McCormack said she was gobsmacked and disgusted. 

“It costs $17 just for the hire fee,” Ms McCormack said. “That’s just for them to come out and load you into the vehicle.”

When she added the cost of the fare from the Forest Centre and the purchase of pies and drinks, she said it would come to at least $100. 

Ms McCormack said prior to February the cost had not exceeded $20 one-way. 

Despite Ms McCormack’s words, Wagga Radio Cabs said the claim of a price-hike was unfounded and Transport for NSW said it was possible messages had been mixed somewhere along the way. 

But Ms McCormack said her inquiries proved otherwise. 

“We’re lost for words,” Ms McCormack said. “My mother has paid her taxes, the same as the rest of us … now she is practically housebound because it’s more than $34 just to leave the house and come back.”

According to Ms McCormack, a doctor could sign off on a discount voucher being provided to wheel-chair-bound residents, as part of the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme. 

It was something she said her family had not worried about as they did not go out often. 

But after the apparent increase, Ms McCormack said anybody in a nursing home without the voucher would have to pay $11 to hire transport and then pay an additional fee to be hoisted into a car. 

“What if you have an accident and you’re suddenly in a wheelchair,” Ms McCormack said. “I don’t think people realise this is happening … it’s going to cause more people to be more house-bound and isolated.”

Wagga Radio Cabs manager Vicki Termezel said she had not heard of an increase to the cost of hiring wheelchair-accessible taxis. 

She said the only price rise was a $1 surcharge on all authorised taxi service providers under the state government’s Passenger Service Levy.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson said confusion may stem from the term “lift fee”, which was widely used in the taxi industry to describe the Wheelchair Accessible Taxi Driver Incentive Payment the government paid to drivers. 

“Passengers do not pay this fee,” the spokesperson said. “If anything the incentive program should benefit customers.”

Customers with concerns can lodge a report at the Transport website