Travelling with a canine companion
London’s taxis and PH vehicles offer independence & freedom to many people, but they may not know that this also extends to assistance dogs.
There is a perception that dogs pose a safety risk and a health hazard, inspiring fear & distrust towards them. But Natasha Fleming, from Guide Dogs UK’s London mobility team, not only claims these fears are unfounded, but requests that drivers should try to understand what it’s like for the disabled person, the one whom assistance dogs are helping.
‘Imagine you were turned away by a driver or asked to pay an extra fare, for no good reason. Unfortunately, this happens all too often to our assistance dog owners & it is an incredibly stressful and difficult experience.’
Natasha says that assistance dogs are highly-trained, chosen for their calm persona, & will have their health checked regularly.
Facts about Assistance Dogs
- Taxi and private hire-drivers who refuse a passenger because of an assistance dog could face a fine of up to £1,000, or risk losing their licence
- Passengers with assistance dogs are charged the same rate as a normal passenger
- Assistance dogs must be seated with their owners always
Since February 2015, TfL have prosecuted 24 private hire drivers for not accepting assistance dogs, resulting in more than £7,000 in fines and costs.
Charities who work disabled people have welcomed the prosecutions. ‘…we want tougher sentences for drivers who turn away assistance dog owners… We also urge all owners who are refused access to alert the local licensing authority, as we believe there is an issue around the underreporting of cases’, Natasha said.
Need more help?
TfL have produced a selection of short films to help disabled people get around the Capital. Go to www.tfl.gov.uk/transport-accessibility to find out more.
Or you can write to
London Taxi and Private Hire
PO Box 71087
London SE1P 5TH
Calls can be made to 0343 222 4444 from 8pm-6pm, Monday to Friday