Victoria’s Multi Purpose Taxi Program helps Merle stay independent
Merle , who describes herself as ‘80 plus’, still remembers a time when cabs were drawn by horses.
‘My mother brought me home in a horse-drawn cab after I had my tonsils out when I was a child,’ Merle says.
Now that she has upgraded to motorised vehicles, she is a regular user of Victoria’s Multi Purpose Taxi Program which is run by Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria. It helps her get around – and she loves it.
‘It’s given me my independence back,’ she says.
Regaining mobility and independence
When Merle had to stop driving due to ill health, she found she was having to rely too much on friends and family for transport – particularly to the highlight of her week, her regular Tuesday art society meeting, but also to more mundane things like medical appointments.
‘Lots of medical appointments,’ she says. ‘Wait till you hear the list!’
A friend told her about the Multi Purpose Taxi Program, which offers subsidised taxi fares for people with serious and permanent disabilities.
With her son’s help, she filled in an application form about her financial situation, providing information such as whether she received an aged or disability support pension.
The program asks for these details to make sure the service remains available to the people who need it the most. If you use a wheelchair, you’re exempt from a financial hardship criteria.
Medical reports required
Merle also had to ask her doctor to fill out a medical report outlining her medical condition.
Now that she’s been accepted into the program, Merle uses her Multi Purpose Taxi Program (MPTP) card when she travels, and only pays for 50 per cent of her fare, up to a maximum of $60 per trip.
‘I consider myself very fortunate to be part of the program’, Merle says.
Merle’s Tuesday art society meeting is particularly important to her.
‘It’s only five minutes away, but there’s no way I could walk there. I’ve been a member since 1994. It’s great to keep in touch with friends and to keep painting,’ Merle says.
‘Being able to keep going every Tuesday makes me feel more positive, brighter and independent.’
Engagement with drivers
Another bonus of the program for Merle is the conversations she has with the taxi drivers.
She has struck up a friendship with one taxi driver in particular.
‘He always comes to the front door, always offers me his arm when we walk to the cab and escorts me to the door.’
‘He’s given me his mobile number, and I ring whenever I need a lift. He’s never let me down.’
Go ahead and join!
Merle’s advice for anyone considering applying to join the program is not to hesitate.
‘An MPTP card will change your life, making you mobile, helping you keep in touch with friends, get to medical appointments, and also, very importantly – to the hairdresser!’
Reviewed 19 July 2022