The Equality Act 2010 places duties on transport providers not to discriminate against disabled people. Yet when it comes to accessing public transport, disabled people still face a range of barriers including: inaccessible train stations; problems with receiving assistance when getting on and off trains; a lack of wheelchair accessible taxis; and barriers to boarding buses when the wheelchair space is in use by non-disabled people.
We have been campaigning to improve access to public transport since the launch of our first End of the Line report in 2009. Since then, we have been invited to sit on disability working groups (DWGs) with transport providers and industry experts, where we raise the concerns of young disabled passengers. Seven years later, we launched a new investigation, End of the Line 2016, which highlighted that despite some progress, public transport remains a challenge for many young disabled people across the UK.
Our report revealed:
- nearly two thirds of survey respondents have experienced problems getting on a bus owing to the attitude or behaviour of the driver or fellow passengers
- half of respondents have been unable to get on a bus because the ramp was not working
- more than half of respondents have been unable to travel on a bus because the wheelchair space was taken up by buggies
- over a quarter of respondents say they have been refused service by a taxi driver, purely because they are disabled
- over half of respondents have experienced difficulties in booking a wheelchair accessible taxi.
I have been verbally abused by bus drivers and other passengers. One time a bus driver shouted to me, ‘People like you shouldn’t be allowed on the bus.‘
If only there was a ‘call button’ on trains because the amount of times I’ve booked assisted travel and still ended up with no ramp and no help (especially at Victoria Station) – well, it’s too many times to count. It makes me anxious if I’m sitting on the train worrying that no-one is coming to help me get off, especially at the end of the line when I know the train will turn around and we’ll travel back the way we came!
Trailblazers are calling on the Government, transport operators and local authorities:
- to put accessibility into the heart of any future infrastructure and vehicle design throughout the UK
- to ensure accessibility in transport works alongside those with buggies and luggage, so spontaneous travel is possible
- to improve communication about improvements and any short-term challenges or difficulties
- to increase the number of accessible taxis in the UK and ensure any app-based technology embraces accessibility in practice
- to work with groups such as Trailblazers to ensure all front-facing staff have adequate disability awareness training
- to improve accessibility of local transport infrastructure to bring into force section 165 of the Equality Act and implement the recommendations from the Law Commission’s taxi consultation.
Read our most recent report into public transport End of the Line 2016 here. Trailblazers continues to campaign on improving access to public transport. If you are affected by these issues and would like to share your experiences or be a media ambassador, contact us here.