A CURRAMBINE woman is calling on the WA Government to replace taxi subsidy vouchers with swipe cards.
Casey Hyde said about 40,000 people in WA with sight impairments relied on public transport and taxis because they could not drive.
“Taxi subsidy vouchers are given to us to help pay with taxi; a cheque book that is 10 years out of date,” she said.
“Cheque books are obsolete and taxi cards are being used in Melbourne and in Sydney.
“In 15 years, I have not seen any progress with upgrading the travel pass or taxi subsidy vouchers and I would like to see Perth services at the same level as other states.
“I am tired of technology not supporting the disabled to live an independent life.
“The technology to bring swipe cards to those with a disability is very basic, yet would mean so much for those who need to use public transport and taxi services.”
Miss Hyde said taxi drivers often did not recognise her vouchers, including on the night of her 22nd birthday.
“The taxi driver wouldn’t sign the voucher due to my cane and guide dog not being present,” she said.
“Without them, apparently, he decided I wasn’t blind and had no disability.
“This made me cry, and my friends tried to argue with the driver, asking him to call his supervisor.
“He drove off and my evening was ruined.”
Miss Hyde moved to Melbourne three years ago, and found it was easy to transfer her WA Travel Pass to ride trains.
“The travel pass was swipe accessible so I felt like everyone else,” she said.
“When I applied for the taxi card in Victoria, I thought it was the best card in my wallet.
“Taxi drivers never questioned me and I used the taxi service more than public transport.
“I was independent and confident.”
Recently she moved back to Perth to be closer to family, expecting to find the system had changed in 2016.
“Nothing has changed; it has actually got worse to live in Perth; to use transport with a vision loss,” she said.
“The travel pass is still not upgraded to a swipe card to access public transport gates.”
Miss Hyde said the cards could not be used for other transport services such as Uber, and it made little sense to require people who could not see to fill out forms.
“The taxi cheque book still exists, causing taxi drivers grief as it has to be filled out and it just wastes my time and theirs, instead of just swiping a credit card-sized card,” she said.
The Change Perth Public Transport Technology petition at www.change.org has more than 320 supporters so far.
A Department of Transport (DoT) spokeswoman said the department was committed to continuous improvement in the areas of accessibility and safety for all on-demand transport customers.
“As part of this commitment, DoT is preparing for a review of its Taxi User Subsidy Scheme (TUSS),” she said.
“The TUSS review will seek to address acknowledged issues with the existing scheme, including the practicality of its current manual voucher system.
“The TUSS review is expected to be completed this year and its outcomes will be released in due course.
“DoT has received feedback on the suitability of the current scheme for people with specific disability types including vision impairment, and is committed to addressing these issues through the planned review.
“The TUSS review will be comparing and evaluating the way similar schemes are administered in other states and territories.
“Currently in WA there is no cap on usage once accepted into the scheme; cap applies in other states and territories.”
The spokeswoman said currently people had to get their GP or a specialist to complete part of the TUSS application form to confirm their permanent disability and certify photograph identification.
Despite the tourist appeal of WA’s coastline, Miss Hyde said simply travelling to beaches could be a challenge as some taxi drivers would not take her “wet guide dog”.
“How can the disabled enjoy the beach like everyone else?” she said.
“There is little public transport near the beach and if there is the times are not frequent.
“On one occasion I caught a taxi to the Whitfords dog beach; the taxi I booked to take me home would not pick me and my guide dog up.
“I walked 5km to Mullalloo beach to a bus stop to wait for a bus.
“No bus came; I had to ring a friend to pick me up.
“I couldn’t rely on public transport or a taxi to travel back to my home in Currambine.”