Disabled man turned away by four taxi drivers at Three Bridges train station
A DISABLED man has spoken out after he was rejected as a passenger by four taxi drivers because his wheelchair was "too heavy".
James Welling arrived at Three Bridges station at 12.30am on Sunday after watching the final of the men's Olympic hockey tournament in London.
He approached four drivers, whose vehicles had the capability to carry wheelchairs, but they each told him they could not take him for reasons including "not having a ramp" or his wheelchair being "too heavy".
Large numbers of taxis often queue at the station waiting for a fare, with some drivers being reluctant to take people on short, cheap journeys.
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James, 34, said: "I saw some able-bodied guys getting into a disabled-access taxi so I asked the next driver if I could be his passenger. I was told no because he didn't have his ramp but I just got the feeling that he wanted me to go elsewhere.
"I asked four drivers in total and they each said no. They told me my wheelchair was too heavy for their taxis, but out of those I could have bought it is small and I am not a big guy."
The drivers argued over the issue among themselves before one finally agreed to take him back to his home in Hawkins Road, Tilgate.
James found the whole experience "belittling" and has never been denied a journey.
"I would have thought it is in their interest to pick up a disabled passenger if their vehicle allows them to," he said.
"Whenever there is a queue at a rank, having a disability-access taxi means they can jump to the front of the queue and they are happy to do so then. It was not as if I was asking for a free journey."
James fears that with the Paralympic Games starting on August 29, other people with disabilities may face the same problem.
He said: "I am more worried about looking out for other people than thinking about myself.
"With the Paralympics starting, I just have my fingers crossed that no one with a disability has to go through what I did."
Have you been turned away at Three Bridges station? If so e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org