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Taxi Times International - August 2015 - Deutsch

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  • Mobility
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MOBILITY SUPPORT

MOBILITY SUPPORT MOBILITY SUPPORT BARRIER-FREE TRANSPORTATION: WHEN AND BY WHOM? BELGIUM: A MIX OF PROFESSIONAL AND VOLUNTEER- SOLUTIONS Only London has mandated a completely wheelchair-accessible fleet. But is a 100% always necessary for a 100%-service? According to some studies 10% of the European population suffers from a mobility handicap at any given time. But not everyone is wheelchairbound. At various stages in our life we all suffer from smaller or larger mobility problems – some temporary, some permanent. But as we all get older (see page 24) and life expectancy rises, so does the number of people with mobility handicaps. In Europe society’s response has traditionally varied from constructing well-nigh fully accessible public transport systems or adapting existing ones, via bolting on separate (accessible) paratransit systems to public transport or combining the two, to letting the elderly and mobility-impaired fend for Our society is far from barrier-free. Many of us suffer from mobility handicaps. themselves. Strangely enough there is only one city which mandated a fully wheelchairaccessible taxi fleet: London. Broadly speaking there seems to be a European North-South divide, with countries in Northern Europe having the most inclusive (public) transport approach and countries in the South providing a patchy or no service in this area and family involvement is greatest. As many countries can learn something from the ‘inclusive’ approach in which the taxi industry can and does play an important role, we have provided –hopefully inspiring- overviews of mixed (semi-)public transport systems in which taxis play such a role (The Netherlands, Denmark). Other countries still have some way to go (Germany, Belgium) to improve their mobility networks and approach. The country whose Färdjänst-system has regularly inspired others to embark on new approaches in booking, operations and tendering –Sweden - will be featured in a later edition of Taxi Times. And as many new app-providers don’t seem interested in providing a service for people with mobility handicaps, we thought it was time for a reminder. Particularly as the EU-member states have now committed to an integral European approach: the European Mobility Card (please read the inspiring column by Gunta Anca, vice-president of the European Diability Forum on page 25). wf EU DISABILITY CARD: ONE STEP CLOSER TO FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT PHOTO: MIVB Belgium is a classic mix between professional and volunteerbased transport solutions for the mobility-impaired. It’s at the crossroads of Northern and Southern Europe. Public transport in Belgium offers limited and not very practical mobility solutions. Only in Brussels local operator STIB offers a door-to-door service, in cooperation with local taxi operator Taxis Verts. From Monday to Saturday from 05.00 to 01.00 the next day; not on Sunday. Only those qualify who have been officially recognised as ‘disabled.’ Similar services are offered in Wallonia, but in Flanders public transport operator De Lijn only governs the accessibility of buses and minivans. Of the 40.000 busstops in Flanders only 2,5% is accessible for wheelchair-users. Belgian railways only offer assistance in a quarter of its 548 stations. DISPATCHING CENTRES FOR THE ‘LESS-MOBILE’ Apart from these services (or lack of them), local town councils and social security organisations have created transport, booking and despatching systems for the ‘less-mobile’ (‘Minder Mobielen Centrales’). These initiatives lean heavily on volunteers. Other, similar services use semi-professional drivers who are compensated for their time and kilometres. In the Brussels TaxiBus system public transport (STIB) and Taxis Verts work together. Health insurances often offer non-urgent transport services to hospitals, doctors or specialists. Often these services are sourced from taxi companies. One company – neither a taxi nor a bus company (Hendriks) – offers specialised transport services. Criteria for reservations vary with the mobility solution chosen. Train, tram and bus require a minimum of 24 hours’ notice. The centres for the ‘less-mobile’ require two to three days’ advance notice. FLANDERS: NEW PROFESSIONALISM In Flanders, where 27 regional priority and non-priority centres for adapted transportation have been created, the approach is clearly changing. They arrange transportation for people with a mobility handicap. In any case they provide the best transport solution for the customer. This could range from a demand-responsive minibus, via an ordinary bus, to an accessible taxi or a specialised transport company. For the transportation of people with major handicaps, each region works with one partner. The Flemish government contributes to each trip. Contrary to the ‘less mobile’-centres, the new regional centres use professional drivers with a minimum of 35 hours training and 6 hours annual additional training. How the roles of booking, organisation, dispatching and transportation are to be divided up and what role the taxi companies (for instance with their dispatch centres) will be playing, is not yet entirely clear. gvl At the event ‘Towards a barrier-free Europe – European ility Card’, organized by MEP Marek Plaura on June 30th, Commissioner Thyssen announced that the call for tenders for Member States to set up a system for the European Mobility Card will be launched this summer. The European Disability Forum (EDF) is happy to see the EU taking a step closer to the launch of the European Mobility Card: “It is a project that we have been campaigning for a long time, together with the European Accessibility Act that the disability movement is still waiting for.” The Card will facilitate travelling to another Member State for persons with disabilities and it will allow them to receive the same benefits and reductions in the areas of culture, leisure, sport and transport under the conditions offered to people with disabilities of this country. It would have a harmonised design and be based on mutual recognition of existing cards, similar to the EU Parking Card (“Blue Badge”). The issuing of the Card will be responsibility of the Member States. Commissioner Thyssen mentioned there is 1.5 million euro available for the Member States to use for the launch of the Mobility Card that will happen early in 2016. The Commissioner emphasised that free movement is a basic right that everyone should be able to exercise expressing her belief that the Card will be a milestone towards this. EDF Vice President, Gunta Anca, underlined that: “The Mobility Card is a great initiative highlighting the right to freedom of movement for persons with disabilities in the EU. It is very important that every project funded by the EU under this call includes the active involvement of organisations of persons with disabilities. The role of EDF is to work together with the European institutions to promote the Card. EDF members have to do the same with their governments at national level. The Mobility Card has nothing to do with charity. It has to do with respecting the fundamental right of freedom of movement and the right of persons with disabilities to actively participate in society on equal terms with other citizens”. wf PHOTO: WIM FABER 8

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