Dundee de-limited  (12/11/2003)

The cap on taxi numbers in Dundee has been lifted, but only for those willing to run a wheelchair accessible vehicle.

Following a scathing official report which claimed that more than 200 of Dundee's taxis could be operating illegally, the limit on the number of taxis in the city has been lifted.  The decision by Dundee City Council's licensing committee ironically came on the day that the Office of Fair Trading recommended the nationwide lifting on numerical restrictions.

However, would-be taxi operators will only be granted licenses to operate wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs), since a major factor behind the decision was the paltry number of such vehicles in the city - around 2% of the total taxi fleet.  The WAV requirement will also cover replacement vehicles.

Despite opposition from taxi trade representatives, the committee unanimously adopted 'option four', which would also remove the incentive to illegally rent plates on the black market.  The 'option three' favoured by the trade involved fixing a new limit on numbers and surveying demand for WAVs, but a council official pointed out that this would be difficult to assess given the possibility of suppressed demand caused by the current dearth of WAVs plying for hire in the city, and would also act as a barrier to implementation of the Disability Discrimination Act.

While the specification of the 'accessible vehicle' requirement adopted by the committed has yet to be finalised, it seems that it will less stringent than the London-style taxi requirement in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and will include 'alternative' vehicles such as the Eurotaxi and Volkswagen Caravelle.

The Dundee Taxi Cab Company, which had revolutionised the trade in Dundee with the introduction of a fleet of silver Mercedes private hire vehicles, had previously promised to invest in 70 wheelchair accessible LTI TX2s if granted taxi licenses.

The Dundee Taxi Association were reported to be taking legal action on the matter.

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Taxi Driver Online 2003