Taxi access falls short

Fair go: Taxi driver Andy Brown helps Jean Stevenson with the difficult gap on Horton Street.

Fair go: Taxi driver Andy Brown helps Jean Stevenson with the difficult gap on Horton Street.

THE elderly and the disabled are being disadvantaged at the busiest taxi ranks in Port Macquarie.

Steve Stewart, a driver with Port Macquarie Taxis, says he has been campaigning for a simple solution to access problems since last year.

Mr Stewart wants sloping ramps at listed ranks in the CBD and at Settlement City, and he believes these ‘laybacks’ will allow people to easily enter any taxi.

“We as drivers help them into the car, but as soon as you take their walker from the passenger, they lose their security,” Mr Stewart said.

“The age group of the elderly passengers vary from 60 to 90 years-of-age, and unfortunately we have had a couple of incidences of falls.

“At this age it takes a long time for them to heal and regain their confidence.” 

Mr Stewart said access issues are occupational health and safety problems that can be easily fixed.

He said wheelchair customers experience the worst conditions at Hayward Street in the CBD, where they have enter the road facing oncoming traffic to get into the accessible taxi. 

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council’s Access Committee are currently assessing the request for a layback at the Hayward St rank outside Coles. 

Lend Lease’s spokesman said the company has been made aware of concerns regarding access to the taxi rank at Settlement City.

“These works have gone to tender and we are currently at the tender evaluation stage, with an aim to proceed in the coming months,” the spokesman said.

Mr Stewart said recent meetings with the Access Committee and Councillor Trevor Sargeant looked likely to improve the current situation.

“Council needs to realise that the elderly population are also the majority of voters in the next election,” Mr Stewart said.

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