A wheelchair-bound woman speaks out about the alienation of being a less able-bodied person, after being dismissed by a transport company. 

Dee Smith who attempted to order a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV), three hours before she needed it, with City Taxis was told the service wasn’t available to disabled wheelchair users.

She said: ‘I was left feeling like I was causing a problem on purpose.”

City Taxis said they were unable to take pre-bookings for wheelchair vehicles, as they ‘need to check the availability of the vehicles in the area’ and asked Miss Smith to call back 30 minutes prior to needing a taxi.

Business Development Director, Paul Gosney at City Taxis, said: “The reason we are unable to take advanced pre-bookings for WAVs is that the driver partners are self-employed, and we can not guarantee they will be available at the requested time.”

City Taxis have 350 WAV taxis in their fleet, spread across their six locations: Barnsley, Chesterfield, Derby, Dronfield, Rotherham and Sheffield.

Miss Smith, 25, from Stocksbridge, Sheffield, called the firm on May 8 to book a taxi to take her to a routine appointment at the Northern General Hospital.

She was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia (FRDA), at 19-years-old, and like many other disabled wheelchair users, relies heavily on reliable transport in order to get around Sheffield. 

She said: “I’m a human being in a wheelchair, there’s nothing else to it, but you do feel very isolated and the only one in the world who is in a wheelchair.”