In a significant move towards enhancing transportation accessibility, Tom Koutsantonis, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, has announced the extension of the $25 lifting fee to a broader range of passengers. This initiative aims to provide a more equitable, consistent, and fair service for both taxi drivers and passengers, particularly those with mobility challenges.
The key component of this new arrangement is the introduction of the Access Taxi Card, designed for individuals who are not part of the South Australian Transport Subsidy Scheme (SATSS) but require assistance with mobility devices such as wheelchairs, scooters, or large mobility aids. This card, which will be distributed to eligible registered customers starting December this year, ensures that passengers who need this service but are not SATSS members can still benefit from the lifting fee. To receive this service, trips must be booked through the Access Taxi booking service.
The $25 lifting fee, funded by the South Australian Government, was initially available only to SATSS members. The extension of this fee to non-SATSS members addresses concerns raised by customers about difficulties in accessing the service and broadens the availability of access taxi services.
Tom Koutsantonis, reflecting on this development, stated, “We have listened to the concerns of the industry and passengers and will extend the lifting fee to more customers.” He acknowledged the challenges faced by non-SATSS members, including those with temporary injuries or those who do not require ongoing mobility support, emphasizing the government’s commitment to ensuring no one is overlooked.
Additionally, SATSS members will now be able to use multiple trip subsidies for longer journeys, a benefit previously limited to regional customers. The non-SATSS Access Taxi Card also offers features like real-time journey information and automatic travel notifications for carers or personal contacts.
In light of the upcoming festive season, the $25 lifting fee will automatically apply to all eligible trips booked through the Access Taxi Centralised Booking Service from 1 December 2023 to 30 June 2024.
Ian Smith, Secretary of the Transport Workers Union SA/NT Branch, hailed this as a “big win for our community.” He highlighted the vital role of access taxi operators and the importance of supporting drivers amidst rising costs in the transport sector. “This is an important step towards making our industry safer, fairer, and more sustainable now and into the future,” Smith added.
This initiative marks a significant step towards creating a more inclusive and equitable transport system for all South Australians.