Adelaide Access Taxis – introduction
I am fortunate to have a vehicle that I can drive independently, whenever I want, and wherever I choose to go. It is a 2013 Volkswagen Transporter that can take my manual or powered wheelchairs. The underfloor lifter, docking station, 3-way driver’s seat, hand controls and an additional seat belt are the magic that makes it happen. There are times when catching a taxi is beneficial, such as journeys to the City of Adelaide or medical appointments. Adelaide Access Taxis provide a fleet of over eighty wheelchair accessible vehicles.
Typically they arrive on time, and I don’t turn up late to events. The drivers have excellent communication, are polite, and make good decisions.
Adelaide Access Taxis – going to Adelaide Fringe
The event was booked – ‘Galactic Trek: The Search for Zork’ at the Rob Roy Hotel at 7:15 pm. The event is described as ‘Adelaide’s favourite improvised sci-fi show returns for the 2019 Fringe. Follow the all-new hilarious, made up on the spot adventures of Captain Bill Jamieson and crew of the USS Improcity in a barely disguised parody of your favourite sci-fi TV show’. Great for nerds like me.
I allowed an hour for the travel time, checking out the venue for access, chatting to friends and getting a drink. On a Saturday evening, the journey takes a maximum of twenty minutes. The taxi arrived on time, and we greeted each other as I headed to the rear of the Kia Carnival.
Adelaide Access Taxis – the water leak
The driver raced to the front of the cab and opened the bonnet. Steam was escaping from the engine compartment, and I went to see. The engine was turned off, and the driver called the operator to ask for a replacement taxi for me. It was just bad luck and so far, so good.
Fifty minutes until the event starts and I will get there on time when the replacement cab arrives. Another five minutes passed and no cab, so I rang the operator, and she indicated it would arrive within five minutes. That was still ok.
A few minutes later, the driver said he fixed the water leak, and had cancelled the replacement taxi.
All of this was done without talking to me, and I would have preferred to take the replacement vehicle. It was to arrive in one minute, and I had doubts about the mechanical ability of the current driver.
Given the replacement taxi was cancelled, and I was running out of time, I was loaded into the Kia.
Adelaide Access Taxis – the same taxi breaks down again
The driver slowly accelerated and we were being passed by every vehicle on the road. That is dangerous driving and I was in the boot! The driver was afraid that the problem would occur again. We had twenty minutes remaining and had only covered a quarter of the distance.
The car broke down again in the OG Road hotel car park and steam was coming out again. The steam only stopped previously because the engine cooled down, and then it heated up again. After turning the engine off, he poked and prodded, and given the day was hot, and the sun was directly on the rear of the vehicle, I started to overheat. Maybe he would tell me again that he fixed the car, and we could continue slowly? I had enough.
Adelaide Access Taxis – the problem with SCI and hot days
I started shouting at the driver and placed the fare on the seat in front of me. With only twelve minutes until the show started, and feeling hot and bothered, I just wanted to get out. I started feeling faint and not able to think clearly. Eventually, he heard me, and I told him to let me out. I paid the driver for the fare and gave him my SATSS voucher. There was no apology.
I rushed inside to the OG hotel to cool down in the accessible toilets. In situations like this, I would continue to wet my face, and drench my shirt and move around in the chair to allow evaporation to cool me down. Instead, I washed my face a few times with cold water and then asked for large water with ice to help cool myself down. I sent a text message to my friends to advise them that my taxi broke down twice, and I would not be attending the Fringe event.
According to the Beaurea of Meteorology, the maximum temperate in Adelaide on this day was over 35 C. This figure is recorded in the shade. Not recorded in the sun, and trapped in a glass house. I hope the driver wasn’t a dog owner. Why didn’t a member of the public come and break the window 🙂
Alica has a great page about Spinal Cord Injuries and body temperature regulation. She mentions…
‘The thermostat that helps heat up our bodies and cool down our bodies is located through our spinal cord. So, when you have injured your spinal cord it messes all that up’.
The other issue is the inability to perspire below the level of the injury, and this affects the ability to cool down in hot weather.
If the driver has the role of providing transport to pwd (people with disability), they should know more about the care required for customers with disabilities. And what training is provided by AIT?
Adelaide Access Taxis – my alternative plan
I had a great meal at the hotel, and travelled a few kilometres to Marden, as my parents had lived there for 54 years. It was good to visit them, and I ordered another taxi to take me home.
Adelaide Access Taxis – parting thoughts
I started this blog praising Adelaide Access Cabs and their drivers, but this one taxi ride shows there are customer service improvements that need to occur.
- taxi drivers shouldn’t do repairs to their vehicles during a journey
- bookings should not be cancelled without discussion with the client
- the operator shouldn’t allow clients to be driven in taxis that have been repaired by the driver during the journey
- drivers need to ensure the clients are comfortable
- drivers need to get the appropriate training about SCI
- drivers need commonsense
- drivers need to value the goal of the client, in front of their need to receive the fare
Hopefully, the driver of the taxi and the operators will learn from this experience. Please leave a comment about your experience with accessible taxis. Both good and bad.
Adelaide Access Taxis – the complaint
I left a complaint with Adelaide Access Taxis a few days after the taxi ride and continued my attempts for a few weeks. No replies. Poor customer service continues. Prior to raising a complaint, I was getting multiple emails from AIT supervisor that contained no subject and had no content. When the first one arrived, I attempted to notify AIT by a simple response ‘Hi did you mean to say something?’.
The supervisors ignored my attempt to notify them about the rogue email they had sent. Instead, they sent a second blank email. Then a third email. They were spamming me for over a week! Each time they spammed me with no subject and no content, I would reply and just say whatever was on my mind. Why would they bother a customer in this way? Was it because I complained to them about the taxi ride?
Adelaide Access Taxis – lost the contract/plot
By chance, I discovered that the South Australian government awarded the contract to manage accessible taxis to Suburban Taxis. And the new contract commences April 1.
On March 30, up to seven PWD in wheelchairs were left in the rain for up to 6o minutes, as they waited for taxis following a football game. Rather than around 70 cabs being available, there were only 8. Is there any point complaining to the company that lost the contract? Maybe they lost it, due to poor customer service? (NOTE 16/4/2019 – this information came from other PWD in wheelchairs and two cab drivers, so it may not be accurate. Another PWD mentioned to me that by the last day of the contract only 5 taxis were available. Another PWD mentioned that the same issues occurred the previous time the contract was award to another company. Who do you believe, PWD in wheelchairs and taxi drivers or the company that lost the contract? you choose)
My experience that night included the booking of the cab via the AIT mobile phone application. As I approached the cabs, I checked the app, and it mentioned that I had already been loaded into the cab. Possibly the driver started the meter as I was late, and they are permitted to do this. But, the application no longer told me the cab number, so I waited near the cabs. Ten minutes later the driver asked for my name. If the application continued to show the cab number, I could have left earlier. It seems that no one consulted with PWD about how the software should operate.
There has been no communication with customers of the changeover, and there have been many problems with booking taxis during the process. It should be seamless if they respect their customers. Hopefully, in a few years, the next changeover will be smooth, and if the contract goes back to AAT, customer services need to improve. All the best with the new contract Suburban Cabs.
Complaints about AAT can be made to the government, via the Adelaide Metro website, and they respond within a few days. It is important to share the impact on customers during the changeover.
p.s. Read about my experiences with accessibility at the Adelaide Festival Theatre
Six months and no communication
Six months passed and I heard nothing about the complaint about the taxi ride. I emailed Adelaide Metro and asked for an update. They apologised for the delay and lack of communication and advised that the driver was given a warning letter about the condition of the cab.
A warning letter is insufficient, as it can be ignored. Besides, the warning was only about the condition of the vehicle. The complaint was primarily about the way the passenger was treated by the driver. It was caused by poor maintenance, communication and a lack of care/respect for the passenger. The focus was on the fare.
I’ve asked Metro Adelaide to read the complaint again, and then suggest what further action should be taken.