By Crawley News | Posted: October 05, 2015
By Chris Ballinger
Zahran Marzook and Nazmil Nizam Mohamed, both 36, have set up private hire firm Star Cars.
One of the business’s main priority will be to transport wheelchair-bound and disabled passengers around the town.
The business partners have both worked as Hackney Carriage drivers, licensed by Crawley Borough Council, for the last two years and on numerous occasions saw disabled people left waiting for a driver willing or able to take them.
The initial fleet of five cars at Star Cars are all wheelchair accessible, with space for extra passengers as well.
Mr Marzook, who lives in Deerswood Court, in Ifield, said: “As Hackney Carriage drivers we can only sit in the taxi ranks, outside Marks & Spencer or at Three Bridges Station, for example, and wait for business.
“We cannot go door to door which is a lot easier for disabled people who may find it difficult to get to one of the ranks or into the town centre at all in the first place.
“Through Star Cars we can take bookings and go to pick people up from their homes and take them to a day centre, to the shops or church and then collect them to go back home again.
“In our fleet we have three Peugeot Partner vehicles which can take a wheelchair and two additional passengers and two Peugeot E7 vehicles which can take a wheelchair and an extra four passengers.”
All of the company’s drivers have passed a disability awareness test, which all Crawley’s Hackney Carriage drivers have to pass.
Mr Nazim Mohamed, from Barley Close, Southgate, explained how he has helped disabled passengers who have been left stranded.
He said: “There are not many taxi firms with a high number of wheelchair-adapted vehicles.
“This makes it even more difficult for disabled people to book a taxi because they will ring up only to be told there are no vehicles available.
“I have taken on jobs where passengers have struggled for hours to get a taxi.
“Not many taxi drivers seem happy to go out of their way to help disabled people.”
James Welling, who uses an electric wheelchair, has had many negative experiences with taxi drivers in Crawley rejecting him as a passenger.
The 37-year-old, from Hawkins Road, Tilgate, said: “The current transport access for disabled people doesn’t paint Crawley in a good light.
“There are a few cabbies who are helpful but I find it is more likely that I’ll be rejected.
“They take a look at my electric wheelchair and say no because either their vehicle or the ramp wouldn’t take the size or weight.
“It is belittling for me.
“There have been times when I haven’t been able to get a taxi home from work at Asda and the battery of my wheelchair died.
“I’m then left with no option but to push myself home.
“A taxi firm set up with disabled people in mind can only be a positive.” The company is running a special offer for wheelchair passengers to get their first journey free if they travel within Crawley.
For more information call 01293 369 469