The research was conducted by Ipsos MORI for the Department for Transport.
The Dft said: "This report presents the findings of research into accessible travel, with a particular focus on wheelchair-accessible taxis and private hire vehicle (PHV) services.
"The quantitative research aimed to measure the number of people who use a wheelchair and travel by wheelchair-accessible taxis or wheelchair-accessible PHVs in England. The qualitative research was designed to explore the experiences and attitudes of people using these services."
The report drew several conclusions:
- The perception of cost is likely to be influenced by the types of participants spoken to. The research did not explore the perspectives of those who might wish to use these services but who feel they are not affordable. Speaking to these people will offer more insight into the likely triggers and barriers that mean people do or don’t decide to use these services.
- It’s clear that the experience and engagement of drivers is crucial to the user’s experience. Speaking to drivers about their perspective – in particular, about the training they do or do not receive – will help understand how to start addressing some of the variable experiences participants shared across this study. Similarly, it could be insightful to discover the issues drivers face that prevent them waiting to collect people who use wheelchairs after delayed appointments and the challenges they face in getting hold of and maintaining adapted vehicles.
- Participants talked about how the type of vehicle they use and how this varies. Conducting research among those responsible for vehicle design and those who purchase these vehicles – either personally or for fleet use – might help shed light on ways to improve the user experience.
There are two clear takeaways from the qualitative research that are worth reiterating here:
- Provision is patchy and scarcity gives rise to greater stress over availability and reliability, as well as lowering perceptions of independence. Improving the scale of service provision will help to make people’s lives better.
- Passengers’ experiences with drivers is highly variable. More can be done to ensure greater consistency of service, addressing issues such as how to help passengers getting in and out of the vehicles, making sure the passenger is safely and comfortably secured, and improving driving style and interactions during the journey.