MSPs support call to let taxis back into Waverley station

Miles Briggs launches a petition at Waverley Station along with members of the Edinburgh Access Panel to allow for taxis to get access to the station for dropping off passengers with disabilities. Picture: Greg Macvean
Miles Briggs launches a petition at Waverley Station along with members of the Edinburgh Access Panel to allow for taxis to get access to the station for dropping off passengers with disabilities. Picture: Greg Macvean
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calls for taxis to be allowed back into Waverley station are set to be debated in the Scottish Parliament,

Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs has won cross-party support from Holyrood politicians for a motion highlighting the problems faced by older and disabled people since the taxi rank was removed and vehicles banned in 2014.

And he hopes to secure a slot for a member’s debate within the next few weeks.

Mr Briggs has also set up an online petition calling for reinstatement of an accessible, visible taxi rank within the station, pointing out it is more than a year since a Scottish Parliament committee said it was “essential” that suitably located taxi facilities were provided.

He said Waverley had gone from being one of the easiest stations in the country to access to one of the most difficult.

“Older people regularly tell me about the inconvenience and difficulties they face.

“Disabled and infirm travellers say they find it very hard to navigate their way to the lifts to leave the station to get a cab while the escalators also pose a particular challenge to those visually impaired people with guide dogs.

“Tourists who have to stand outside with no shelter in all weather having carried heavy luggage from the platforms are often deeply unimpressed with their first experience of our city.”

Hilary Davies, from Morningside, who is registered blind, said she could not use Waverley station now unless she got a lift with Handicabs.

“That’s the one vehicle that can take people into the station – but you have to book about two weeks in advance.”

She said the Calton Road drop-off point, introduced since taxis were banned from the station, was too remote.

“Particularly in the dark days of winter, no-one would want to be left there. You have to press a button and let the assistance people know you are there, but it still takes them some time to get to you.”

Ms Davies said she would love to see the taxi rank restored inside Waverley. But she added: “I don’t think we will ever get the taxis in again the way they used to be. But they could easily reopen the north ramp and that could be available to a limited number of taxis if they have a passenger who is very frail or disabled.

“The cycling lobby successfully got Waverley to agree to them being able to cycle down into the station.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “Since 2009, over £50 million has been invested in improving access and refurbishing passenger facilities at Waverley.

“Step-free and lift access has been created off the Waverley Steps, Calton Road and Market Street entrances.

“We have no plans to bring the taxi rank back into use and the area previously occupied by the rank will be required for the construction of new platforms for the new electric Edinburgh-Glasgow services and the new trains being introduced on the East Coast main line in a £25m investment in the station.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com