Until River City Cabs finds a way to secure all mobility scooters to taxi hoists, some users will have to continue getting off and climbing into the vans.
The problems mobility scooter users have had with the health and safety policy were laid out to the Horizons Regional Council yesterday.Horizons transport manager Phil Hindrup and planner Desley Monks were in Whanganui and held talks with members of the group, Pedestrians on Wheels.
River City Cabs' drivers have been asking some people, those who can't be secured safely to the hoist, to get off their scooter and climb into the vans.
Doris Jaggard described her embarrassment when doing just that went wrong.
"I was put in a very awkward position where I had to get off the scooter or she [the driver] wouldn't be taking me anywhere and I had an appointment in town.
"I had to get off the scooter inside the van then when I got to the destination I had to get back on my scooter and in doing both those I re-damaged my knee and my ankle."
Phil Hindrup apologised to Jaggard for the injury and told the group of about 20 in attendance there had been a lack of information and he hoped to clear things up.
"The key requirement that NZTA [NZ Transport Agency] wants is that you're fixed to the ramp when it's lifting you up for obvious reasons."
Terry O'Hagan pointed out that would mean the driver would have to strap the scooter in and out two or three times, making the journey longer and more difficult.
Hindrup said Horizons may be able to talk to NZTA about possibly loosening the rules.
"Whatever our personal opinion is on this issue - that is the rule that we're operating to at the moment and if the rule is not right ... then we need to raise that with the powers that be."
Desley Monks said the difficulty was a lack of collaboration between the manufacturers of the scooters and the hoists.
"The vans need to be designed to take the scooters and the manufacturers of the scooters need to put more safety harnesses on the scooters so they can go in the vans," she pointed out.
All in attendance agreed there was no solution to be had until the operators, such as River City Cabs, had the appropriate means of securing a scooter to the hoist.
Hindrup was confident that wouldn't be difficult.
"If I was a business owner I'd be looking to fix it as quickly as we could," he said.
"I'd like someone as an operator to show me if they're having a hard time. I don't think it's difficult to ensure that a mobility device is restrained to a ramp [hoist]."
Hindrup hoped there would be a plan to move towards secure hoists before Pedestrians on Wheels meets in a month.
Towards the end of the meeting, Doris Thiele made a suggestion that would help ease tensions for the meantime.
"We are the minority of people out there ... we have to get across to them [taxi company] in a nice way our issue," she said.
"Indicate that you need to sit on your scooter the whole time. The whole thing is attitude and putting across your need before the taxi arrives."