Wanted: signatures for petition to save the Taxi Subsidy Scheme

Media release
April 05, 2019 

The State Government has plans to end the Taxi Subsidy Scheme (TSS) on 30 June 2019, and so pushing Queenslanders with disabilities onto the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) for their transport needs. However, the Taxi Council Queensland (TCQ) is concerned this shift will leave many current TSS users worse off come July 1, with some users receiving less funding than required to sustain their essential travel. TCQ is encouraging taxi customers and industry members to sign an online petition which will be presented in Parliament.

“The Taxi Subsidy Scheme was set up specifically to help Queenslanders with disability who cannot access other forms of public transport. It’s a scheme which has worked extremely well over many years, getting people with a disability engaged in their community, to and from work or study, down to the shops or medical appointments,” TCQ, CEO Mr Blair Davies said. “Accessible taxis remain the sole mode of transport available for many TSS users and our community’s most vulnerable members do not deserve to be further disadvantaged by a bureaucratic decision to roll everything and everyone under the NDIS.

“Ending the TSS, prior to the NDIS establishing itself as a scheme has the confidence of the disability community, will result in some Queensland users being left substantially disadvantaged. Only 10 percent of people with a disability are expected to receive a disability support package under the NDIS. Users will also have their Mobility Allowance ceased when transitioning to NDIS, so we cannot say that the NDIS is a one-stop fix it solution – it’s more commonly reported in the media as a scheme full of problems rather than a scheme full of solutions for people with disability and their families.

“We hear that some customers could be waiting months to have their access requests reviewed and assessed and there is no guarantee that the funding package provided by the NDIS will be enough to sustain their travel needs. Right now, the TSS provides affordable and accessible transport options for people who’ve experienced profound difficulties using other modes of public passenger transport.”

The Commonwealth Government’s funding for the NDIS in 2019 and 2020 results in the highest disability support package being capped at $3,456 per year. If users are transitioned onto the NDIS, they will need to plan transportation use so it can be entirely covered by NDIS funds – a potentially costly shift if a user overspends in the first half of the year, meaning they may not have enough to support their travel in the remainder of the year.

TCQ also has concerns Queensland NDIS participants will be impacted by the removal of the $20 ‘Lift Payment’ that the Government offers to wheelchair accessible taxi (WAT) drivers who transport TSS members to compensate them for the extra time associated with loading and securing passengers’ wheelchairs so that they are safe to be transported.

“The TSS enables affordable transport options for people with disability by subsidising half of the fare up to a maximum of $50, and without a cap on the number of taxi trips a user can take,” continued Mr Davies. “This subsidy can make all the difference to the quality of living for not only TSS users but also their families and friends. The subsidy also helps keep WAT vehicles viable and enables our industry to keep providing this vital service.”

“The TSS continues to work well and is a huge support for the Queensland taxi industry’s commitment to deliver world’s best practice in wheelchair accessible taxi services. We encourage members to consider signing the e-petition so that we can continue helping all Queenslanders get from A to B, safely and conveniently.”

If you agree that the TSS needs to be extended, you can sign the online petition here.