The driver was actually quite sympathetic to my concerns – based on the fact that bigger cars are less fuel efficient. But he told me he had been forced to buy a large vehicle by Bristol City Council. They have introduced laws that mean all hackney cabs in the city have to be wheelchair friendly.
A laudable objective you may think. But my driver complained that this meant he had to spend more money buying his car and more again to run it. He told me that his previous saloon car did 34.7 mpg in town and 48 mpg on the motorway. His current one only does 25mpg in town and 28 mpg on motorways. That really stacks up over the 20,000 – 30,000 miles he travels in a year.
I worked out that he’d be using nearly 300 extra gallons of fuel annually compared to his previous car. And if you multiplied this across the 900 licensed cabs running in Bristol it would come to about 270,000 extra gallons of fuel a year.
If Bristol was full of wheelchair travellers this might make some sense. But I also learnt that in the last five and half years my driver has picked up only two people using wheelchairs.
This is totally ridiculous. There are other far more carbon-friendly ways for Lib Dem controlled Bristol Council to ensure taxi availability for wheelchair users. I wonder if any of them have ever thought about the wider impacts of their regulations – they should. Let’s hope that other cities don’t follow suit.