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‘Shameful’: Melbourne Airport‘s move to prioritise Ubers slammed for impact on disabled travellers

Melbourne Airport will give more priority to Ubers over taxis starting next week, with the decision criticised as making it harder for those with a disability to travel.

The rideshare giant will take over the taxi rank in front of Terminal 2, as well as a section of Terminal 4, with taxis taking up in front of Terminal 1 and part of Terminal 4.

Victorian MP Rod Barton hit out at the decision, which he says will force travellers in wheelchairs to navigate a maze of obstacles in order to reach a taxi rank offering accessible vehicles.

“This is an appalling decision. This is a shameful commercial grab to prioritise the Uber business model over disability services and industry participants,” Mr Barton said.

“Disabled passengers will now have to travel the length of the airport and up a lift in a wheelchair dragging a bag just to reach a wheelchair accessible vehicle.”

Taxi Blockade
Camera IconUber will take over key pick up areas at Melbourne Airport, leaving those in a wheelchair with fewer options. Tony Gough Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr Barton suggested the move had been influenced by a commercial arrangement between Melbourne Airport and Uber.

Uber currently does not offer wheelchair accessible vehicles in most markets, however the option does appear on the company’s website.

In 2019, the rideshare company accounted for 27 per cent of commercial vehicle pick-ups at Melbourne Airport, compared to 22 per cent for taxis, according to chief of ground transport Jai McDermott, who said that was the reason behind the change.

Rita Magnano and Husband
Camera IconAn airport representative said overall passengers will be better off. Ian Currie Credit: News Corp Australia

According to Mr McDermott, the impact on most passengers will be a positive one and step-free access to taxi ranks would remain available from all baggage claims.

“Uber is able to accommodate collapsible wheelchairs and passengers in rigid wheelchairs can continue to use taxis or their own transport,” Mr McDermott said.

“Kerbside taxi ranks remain located directly outside the Qantas terminal and in the Terminal Four ground transport hub (which serves Jetstar and Rex).”

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