A BRADFORD woman who uses a wheelchair has spoken of her difficulties in getting reliable transport – saying she ‘feels like a burden’ on society.

Saffron Farr-Hoey, 22, from Wrose, Shipley, has struggled to get around Bradford and Leeds, blaming a lack of availability of cabs able to fit her electric wheelchair.

She said the issue has got worse over the last couple of months, claiming that private hire companies and Hackney Carriages she has pre-booked had cancelled on her, turned up late or not showed up at all.

Bradford Council said it was sorry to hear of the problems Saffron had been experiencing.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Saffron has struggled to get around because there aren't enough vehicles suitable for her electric wheelchair Saffron has struggled to get around because there aren't enough vehicles suitable for her electric wheelchair (Image: Newsquest)

In one incident, Saffron said she waited more than 45 minutes for a cab she had pre-booked the night before but eventually had to use another company due to the vehicle not being suitable for her wheelchair.

She said: “I feel like a burden. It’s really isolating for disabled people and not having accessible taxis means I can’t be independent and get around.

“If I can’t pre-book a taxi, I can’t make plans, but if I make plans and pre-book the taxi, I’m either late or I have to cancel.”

Saffron said she had experienced difficulties with several taxi companies in Bradford and said the root of the problem is there aren’t enough taxis available to meet the demand – with many drivers being self-employed and choosing their working hours.

A Bradford Council spokesperson said: “We are sorry to hear that someone, especially a wheelchair user, has had problems using Hackney Carriages.

“All the Hackney Carriage vehicles licensed by Bradford Council are wheelchair accessible. Although many people use their services from a rank, it is possible to prearrange a journey directly with a Hackney Carriage driver/proprietor.

“Hackney Carriage licences allow the driver to work on a self-employed basis. They are sole traders, who work the hours they choose.

“The council is not responsible for the bookings or contracts that they accept or complete. However, the council would be the correct regulatory body for any offences of discrimination, such as an outright refusal on the basis of a disability, refusal of assistance dog etc.

“We have had the rare occasion where, depending on the size of the wheelchair, there may not be many vehicles suitable to carry it.

“However, some larger private hire operators have the option for booking accessible vehicles, both in advance and on an ad-hoc basis. These tend to be the larger companies with APP based booking systems.”