Good Practice Database

This database contains good practice examples on how the accessibility of public space and public transport can be improved, covering all categories of the ISEMOA Quality Management System.

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ISEMOA Good Practice Fact Sheet

Title in original language Improving Accessibility to Small Public Service Vehicles
Title in English Improving Accessibility to Small Public Service Vehicles
Location Ireland
Year 2010
Initiator Commission for Taxi Regulation
Developed by
(one pick only)
  • Administration / Political actor
Implementation Area
  • Municipality
  • City
  • Region
  • Urban
  • Rural
Supported accessibility level
  • Micro accessibility
Elements of the working process - Preconditions
  • Legal / Administrative context
Elements of the working process - Policy
  • Leadership
Elements of the working process - Strategy
  • Programme / Plan
Elements of the working process - Implementation
  • Accessibility measures and accessibility planning
Type of PRM Affected
  • Visual impaired
  • Motor impaired
  • Hearing impaired
Application Field / Target area - Public Transport - other
  • Name: Taxi
  • Vehicle
Why is it a good practice example? Regulations have been put in place to provide for additional requirements for wheelchair accessible taxis and hackneys. This example underpins in a Statutory Instrument the improvement of accessibility in Small Public Service Vehicles (SPSV). In order to obtain a licence to operate a vehicle as a wheelchair accessible taxi or wheelchair accessible hackney, the vehicle must meet a new set of standards that have been designed for the comfort and safety of users. These new standards apply to all applications for wheelchair accessible taxis and hackney licences made since 8th June 2010. The Regulation is supported by an 'Initial Suitability Inspection Manual' produced in June 2010 which provides for vehicles seeking first licensing as a SPSV or a change of vehicle licence transaction or change in SPSV licence category.

The methods of inspection are intended to be carried out by trained and competent persons. The regulations contain specifications relating to general vehicle requirements, luggage, door dimensions, wheelchair space, seating numbers and dimensions, access steps, wheelchair ramps and lifts, restraints for wheelchairs and passengers travelling in wheelchairs.
Background and Objectives / Aims Twenty per cent of the Irish population has a disability of some kind, and there are some 25,000 wheelchairs users in the country. The supply of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) does not currently meet the demand, and many people with disabilities have considerable difficulties accessing a Small Public Service Vehicle (SPSV). Currently, 5.4% of the SPSV fleet (1,331 vehicles out of 24,651) is wheelchair accessible.

Therefore, the strategic objective is to facilitate access to high quality SPSV services by all users, particularly people with disabilities. The aims are to ensure an appropriate range of vehicles for people with disabilities, to stimulate the demand for SPSV services by enhancing consumer confidence in and access to SPSV services and to make information and services more easily available to users with specific requirements.
Implementation (incl. obstacles, public participation) A key concern is the maintenance of the existing wheelchair accessible fleet. The deteriorated economic climate and absence of required funding provides serious challenges to a target set that 10% of the SPSV fleet would be fully accessible. Large scale funding to fully replace the existing wheelchair accessible fleet is unavailable due to current exchequer budgetary constraints.

For this reason the Taxi Regulation Directorate (formerly the Commission for Taxi Regulation) intends to revoke the regulations affecting existing WAV operators which would have required them to upgrade their vehicle on renewal of their licence in 2012 in conjunction with offering a limited grant scheme, from available accessible funding, to assist a proportion of existing vehicles to upgrade and for new vehicles to enter the market.
Conclusions (incl. output, analysis of benefits) In Ireland, SPSVs are generally the only mode of transport (apart from the Rural Transport Programme) that is available to consumers who require door to door service. They complement and support services provided by other public transport operators.

Prior to 2000, regulation of the SPSV sector was characterised by quantitative entry restrictions to the taxi market, diversity in taxi fare structures and levels across the country and a fragmented administrative structure for all vehicle licence categories. Before 2000, demand for SPSV services far exceeded supply. A High Court decision in 2000 led to the liberalisation of the SPSV sector. Quantitative entry restrictions to the taxi market were lifted and existing licensing conditions remained in place for the hackney, wheelchair accessible taxi and limousine categories. The Taxi Regulation Act 2003 recognised the need for a greater degree of qualitative regulation and set out a number of objectives in this regard. The Commission for Taxi regulation was established in 2004 and began its programme of introducing qualitative regulations and supporting systems from 2005 onwards. It was in this context that wheelchair accessibility for SPSV was underpinned in a regulatory framework.

The introduction of the new standards for wheelchair accessible vehicles had the potential to radically diminish the existing wheelchair accessible taxi fleet. This is because many SPSV operators would find it very difficult to secure finance from private institutions for these high-cost vehicles. Those that could secure financing may be reluctant to do so due to the additional operating cost. In this regard, one-off funding assistance was deemed essential. By the end of 2012, it is feasible that approximately 11% of the cab fleet will be wheelchair accessible to the new standards. This can only be achieved subject to the availability of sufficient financial assistance together with the introduction of the related licensing conditions which increases the number of new entrants at the higher wheelchair accessible standards. The Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Grant Scheme was announced in May 2011 and will commence in September 2011 to be set at EUR 1.5 million to year end. A further budget is set to be allocated in December 2011 from the Accessibility Fund for 2012.
Source / Link http://taxiregulation.nationaltransport.ie/for-operators/spsv-vehicle-licensing/apply-for-an-spsv-vehicle-licence/
Information - documents SI 248/2010 Taxi Regulation Act 2003 (Wheechair Accessible Hackneys and Wheelchair Accessible Taxis -Vehicles Standards) Regulations 2010 (207 KB)
Initial Suitability Inspection Manual June 2010 (470 KB)