Govt cuts leave 'vulnerable' stranded
MOBILITY-impaired people who rely on taxis for work, school or medical appointments could be limited to one discounted taxi ride a week under changes to the Taxi Subsidy Scheme.
Many of these people use taxis twice a day to get to and from their commitments, with the scheme covering 50% of their taxi fare, up to $25 in any given trip, with the individual paying the balance.
There are currently no limits on the number of trips that are eligible for subsidy, but Taxi Council Queensland chief Benjamin Wash says this Queensland Budget has revealed a new $400 annual limit per person from July 1 next year.
The Taxi Subsidy Scheme helps people who - due to physical or intellectual disabilities or challenges - rely on taxi travel and who otherwise would not be able to travel to work, school, medical appointments and do their shopping.
But higher users will have to pay more or forego travel.
Mr Wash said the changes were made without industry consultation and might have a major impact on the lives of the aged and people with disabilities.
He said more than 10,000 vulnerable Queenslanders would no longer have certainty about how they would get to work or school
Mr Wash said, based on an average fare under the scheme, eligible users would be limited to less than one taxi trip a week.
"Many mobility-impaired customers work in regular jobs and need travel up to twice per day," he said.
"Elderly customers tend to travel twice per week - or 100 plus trips per year - simply for normal grocery shopping.
"Others travel more than twice per week for medical and other reasons."
Mr Wash said the changes would also hit taxi drivers, who are small business people, hard but this was about standing up for customers.
"The government has kept the same overall allocation to the scheme but reduced the ability of people to use it. It's like saving money by stealth," he said.
"These are the people we see every day and assist to live normal lives. We know their stories."