Taxi subsidy back on track

Taxi driver Ian Sims with regular passenger of the Taxi Subsidy Scheme Craig Sinn.
Taxi driver Ian Sims with regular passenger of the Taxi Subsidy Scheme Craig Sinn. Tanya Easterby

JACKIE Fallon, managing director of Gympie Golden City Cabs, is happy the State Government has reversed its decision to cap the usage of the Taxi Subsidy Scheme.

She said the decision was great news for the business' customers with disabilities who relied on taxi travel as their only form of transport.

The Taxi Subsidy Scheme is an initiative that aims to improve the mobility of people with severe disabilities.

The scheme is funded and administered by the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Half of the total taxi fare is subsidised up to a maximum of $25 per trip.

Mrs Fallon said there were many customers in Gympie and across the state who relied heavily on the taxi subsidy in order to live a life which was as normal and functional as possible.

She said many clients like Red Cross workers used the scheme to travel to work.

"Many use it to get to and from much-needed medical and specialist appointments and life-saving dialysis appointments," Mrs Fallon said.

"Other uses are just to do the everyday tasks like everyone else takes for granted."

She said without the subsidy people with disabilities, who were unable to drive themselves, wouldn't be able to afford to go shopping, pay bills and go to social activities or work.

"Many on this scheme are unable to work common everyday jobs because of their mobility problems and so many are on a low income or pension and so this assistance is very much needed," Mrs Fallon said.

"I have been in the taxi industry for 25 years and during that time this scheme has always been the same 50% subsidy.

"Last year the government announced the scheme would be capped at $400 per year."

She said it was "ridiculous".

Some customers who have a disability travelled to dialysis appointments two to three times a week.

"With their budget for transport this would mean they would only be subsidised for about three months of the year," she said.

"A lot of fear and uncertainty was put into the mobility impaired community by this announcement."

Disability groups got together and demanded that the cap be removed and after a nervous wait the decision was overturned.

"It's great news that the subsidy scheme will remain as is," Mrs Fallon said.

"Now our mobility impaired community can once again go about their lives with the confidence."

Gympie Cabs transports many mobility impaired customers and they rely on the taxis not only because of the subsidy but because of the door-to-door service.

Drivers help by dropping clients at the door and helping unload items.

They also assist by taking scripts into the chemist and a whole range of other personalised services that you would not get with other mainstream forms of public transport.

Taxi Subsidy Scheme

To be eligible for the scheme you must meet at least one of the eligibility criteria listed below:

  • Physical disability requiring dependence on a wheelchair for all mobility outside the home.
  • Severe ambulatory problem that restricts walking to an extremely limited distance.
  • Total loss of vision or severe visual impairment
  • Severe and uncontrollable epilepsy
  • Intellectual impairment or dementia resulting in the need to be accompanied by another person
  • Severe emotional and/or behaviour disorders with a level of disorganisation resulting in the need to be accompanied by another person at all times.
Gympie Times

Topics:  tax

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