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SHOCKING: Elderly blind man refused by three taxis

Oliver Peterson
Article image for SHOCKING: Elderly blind man refused by three taxis

A blind man was refused by three taxis at a Fremantle rank because he wanted to use a voucher subsidised by the State Government.

Taxi User Subsidy Scheme (TUSS) vouchers entitle certain people living with a disability to access discounted taxi fares. Using the voucher does not mean the taxi driver misses out on fare money, instead the driver claims a reimbursement. It is illegal to refuse a fare from someone who has a TUSS voucher.

Alan Rustand and his wife and carer Terri approached the first cab on the South Terrace rank and were told by the driver he doesn’t take the vouchers and then locked his doors when they tried to re-approach him on the advice of the second cab… but then he also refused the fare, as did the third.

Speaking with Oliver Peterson, Mrs Rustand said it wasn’t until they approached the fourth taxi that their fare was accepted.

“My poor husband was so humiliated,” she said.

“Alan has had those vouchers for 15 years, and that’s never happened.”

The drama didn’t end there. After the Rustand’s got home, Mrs Rustand realised she had left her mobile in the taxi. The driver then charged her $15 to return it.

Mr Rustand has only two per cent vision and is entitled to a 50 per cent subsidy on taxi fares.

“It’s total discrimination,” said Mrs Rustand.

“Any other service industry that treats their customers like that wouldn’t be in business for very long.”

It’s been 10 days since the incident and Mrs Rustand said Swan Taxis have now offered to refund the $15.

Swan Taxis has provided the following statement:

Swan Taxis is currently investigating the matter seriously with the drivers involved. We are currently working with the Department of Transport to evaluate the reported event that occurred at the Fremantle rank.

As a company, we are committed to providing reliable services to all our customers, including those relying on the State Government’s Taxi User Subsidy Scheme. The experience of our customers is important and we do not condone any form of behaviour as that reported. We have sincerely apologised to the customer involved who has assisted with our investigations to afford us the opportunity for prompt action.

UPDATE: A Swan Taxis representative visited the Rustand’s home after this interview was aired with chocolates, $50 in an envelope and an apology.

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(Photo credit: Nine News)

Oliver Peterson
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