The Palaszczuk Government has launched a $21 million, four-year Wheelchair Accessible Taxi (WAT) fund to encourage taxi operators to make their vehicles accessible and modernise the state’s fleet.
More than 600 wheelchair accessible taxis currently operate across Queensland, however 35 per cent are now older than eight years.
Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said the multi-million dollar investment will help taxi owners replace older vehicles, bringing the average age of the fleet down to just over three years.
“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to ensuring all Queenslanders have access to safe and reliable transport,” Ms Trad said.
“This funding will support taxi operators who provide accessible transport in making sure they’re able to continue offering a great service for people who use wheelchairs or mobility devices.
Under the funding, wheelchair accessible taxis aged eight years or older will be eligible for 50 per cent funding for gradual vehicle replacement from 2019-20 through to 2022-23.
“It’s an initiative that will help people get to work, appointments and stay connected with family and friends, while also driving jobs in the transport industry and for local businesses who provide accessible vehicle modifications.”
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey made the announcement on the Gold Coast at the Australian Taxi Industry Association’s annual international conference and said the funding program would also be available for other taxi operators to convert their vehicles and make them wheelchair accessible.
“We want to get more taxi operators driving accessible vehicles. The Palaszczuk Government’s funding will help put an additional 65 accessible taxis on the road, boosting the number of vehicles available by 10 per cent,” Mr Bailey said.
“We’re investing in jobs, supporting Queensland businesses and delivering the services for our growing state.”
Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ) CEO Blair Davies said it was great to see the Government and the taxi industry working together to keep Queensland as a world leader when it comes to wheelchair accessible taxi services.
“The Queensland Government’s decision to help our taxi operators replace their older accessible taxis is a fantastic initiative. It’s a very timely helping hand and one that is much needed,” Mr Davies said.
“TCQ reached out to Minister Bailey about a financing problem that was stopping our members replacing the ageing WAT fleet and pleasingly he has come back with a very welcome solution.”
It follows the announcement earlier this month committing $6 million to continue the Taxi Subsidy Scheme for a year and a further $6.8 million to continue incentive payments for wheelchair accessible taxi drivers to give priority to the scheme’s members.
The Taxi Subsidy Scheme provides a co-contribution of up to $25 per trip for people with severe disabilities who are unable to use other forms of subsidised public passenger transport, while the incentive payment of $20 is offered to drivers for each eligible trip involving a TSS member.
Minister Bailey said the funding will ensure nobody is disadvantaged through the transition to the Federal Government’s National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).