Elderly woman shunned from St Albans taxi rank after trying to use her taxi vouchers


Taxi. - Credit: Archant

A concerned daughter has condemned the district’s taxi system after her elderly mother was refused a cab journey from the city centre last week.

Jacqueline Farley was out Christmas shopping with her 86-year-old mother, who lives in St Albans, on Thursday (17) when they went to get a taxi from the St Peter’s Street taxi rank.

Her mum, who wishes to remain anonymous, is entitled to taxi vouchers, and often uses them to book taxis in advance.

But when she attempts to pick up cabs from the taxi ranks in St Albans she is always refused.

Jacqueline said: “We were tired from traipsing around the town and decided to take a taxi home. I am over from California so I was ready to hail a cab.

“‘Oh I have vouchers’, says my mum, ‘but I rarely use them’ and now I know why.”

Jacqueline’s mother uses Goldline taxis when booking her fare, and is told that theoretically she should be able to approach cars with that logo at the ranks and use the vouchers to get home.

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Jacqueline continued: “We ran the gauntlet of the taxis at the rank in St Peter’s Street pausing only at the Goldline cabs - the ones who accept the vouchers - except they didn’t. There were two cabs who were supposedly contracted to serve voucher holders, but both refused.

“My mum goes shopping every day, it’s the way she keeps her independence, and the idea of her having to walk home by herself with these shopping bags is horrible to me. I live away from home and I want to know that if she wants a taxi home she can get one.”

The vouchers are made available to elderly people with mobility problems by the district council.

Michael Lovelady, St Albans head of legal, democratic and regulatory services, said that the taxi voucher scheme was a voluntary one and only a number of licensed taxi operators in the district agreed to take part.

He added that there is no obligation for taxis at the taxi rank to accept the vouchers.

Michael continued: “We are sorry to hear of this lady’s difficulties in using vouchers to obtain a taxi for her return trips from the city centre.

“We will be contacting her and the company she regularly uses to see if we can come to an arrangement that ensures there are no further problems.”

Asked what their stance on taxi vouchers was. Maureen Mack, officer manager of Goldline Taxis, said: “I am shocked and find it very hard to believe that our drivers would refuse this woman.

“To carry our equipment and logo drivers are told they must always accept taxi vouchers, and if we find out that any of our drivers have refused someone, they will be given a stern warning, and even have the right to work with us taken away.

“The idea of an elderly lady walking up a taxi rank not being able to get a taxi home is abhorrent to me and I would encourage Jacqueline to get in touch with me so we can try and find the drivers who refused her. Her mother should know that if she calls us up we will happily pick her up from wherever she may be in St Albans too.”