Trailblazers take transport campaign to Westminster

Published Date
Victoria Wright

Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Trailblazers, a network of young disabled campaigners, will head to Westminster today to have their say on access to public transport.

This follows a nine-month undercover investigation and national survey that looked at young disabled people’s experiences of accessing buses, trains, taxis and the London Underground and Overground.

Trailblazers  will be attending the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Young Disabled People to question MPs and transport operators about access to buses and taxis. A follow up APPG on access to trains, the London Underground and Overground will take place later this summer.

Their report, End of the Line 2016, reveals a shocking picture of young disabled people turned away from journeys, facing verbal abuse and being left stranded across the country.

The UK-wide report finds:

  • Shocking accounts of abuse and threats from staff and passengers.
  • Common routes on the London Underground taking over four times as long for disabled people. [Baker Street to Bond Street taking 33 minutes for disabled people, compared to just two minutes for a non-disabled person].
  • A disabled passenger hospitalised by the dangerous design of a bus.
  • Two thirds denied from boarding a bus due to the negative attitude of the driver or public.
  • A third of survey respondents left stranded after taxis refused pick-up because of their disability.
  • A quarter unable to use their nearest train station and having to travel miles in a costly taxi to an accessible one.

Trailblazer Nirav Shah, 29, from the East Midlands, said:

I have been left stranded in town after a driver refused to pick me up, simply because of my disability. I constantly encounter issues with taxis; from cost to accessibility. After one booking a driver denied me entry because of the size of my wheelchair, which was incredibly frustrating. The council must look into regulating taxis for disabled people. It is devastating to think of the countless stories of disabled people struggling with transport across the country.

Trailblazer Alexandra Haines, 28, from Liverpool, said:

I’ve had shocking experiences across taxis, buses and trains, which have dented my confidence in public transport. I am lucky now to have found a brilliant taxi company in town, but previously struggled with constantly being refused and given blunt responses. I also struggle with guaranteeing a ramp will be available for me at a train station, which stops me from travelling when and where I want. The behaviour and attitude of transport staff and the public plays a big part in disabled people’s use of transport. We need to feel supported and that transport serves us too.

Tanvi Vyas, Trailblazers Project Manager,  said:

It is disturbing to learn of such shocking experiences across the transport network. The fact that young disabled people are being denied life opportunities by an inaccessible network is a national disgrace. Reports of verbal and physical threats are deeply troubling and will dent the confidence of victims for years to come.

While we recognise and welcome improvements to transport over the years, it is clear from this report that much more needs to be done. Local authorities and transport operators need to engage with charities like Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Trailblazers, and ensure that transport works for everyone. No-one should be left behind.

Trailblazers is Muscular Dystrophy UK’s network of young disabled campaigners. If you’re a young person (16 – 35 years) with a muscle-wasting condition and would like to join us, sign up here and help us campaign for young disabled people’s rights.

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