London cabs for wheelchair users grow to 30

London Taxi cabby Tan Seoh Bung, 58, helping Eddie Leow (on wheelchair), 40, to get onboard his London Taxi. Transport operator SMRT has put its final batch of 15 London cabs on the road on Thursday, doubling its fleet of vehicles that wheelchair use
London Taxi cabby Tan Seoh Bung, 58, helping Eddie Leow (on wheelchair), 40, to get onboard his London Taxi. Transport operator SMRT has put its final batch of 15 London cabs on the road on Thursday, doubling its fleet of vehicles that wheelchair users rely on to get around. -- ST FILE PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Transport operator SMRT has put its final batch of 15 London cabs on the road on Thursday, doubling its fleet of vehicles that wheelchair users rely on to get around.

In a statement on Thursday, SMRT said its fleet of 30 London taxis are now fully operational to cater to those wheelchair bound commuters, especially those using motorised and larger-than-normal wheelchairs.

The first batch of white London cabs made their debut in March, after SMRT was awarded a $3.1 million grant from the Government last year to bring in a new fleet.

Mr Benny Lim, Senior Vice President of SMRT Roads, said the London taxi drivers have established "long-time relationships" with their passengers.

Beyond the hardware, SMRT is also looking to develop their "software" by training the drivers to "better assist passengers with mobility impairments".

"Some of the measures include a mentorship programme where experienced London taxi drivers are paired with new drivers," he said.

This enables knowledge transfer and the sharing of insights on customer service, as well as the passing on of industry know-how such as how drivers can maximise the many benefits of these vehicles to make it a more comfortable ride for their passengers.

"We are confident that our efforts in doubling the availability of our fleet of London taxis, coupled with enhanced training offered to drivers, will translate to enhanced comfort and convenience to passengers with special travel needs," Mr Lim added.