Young disabled campaigners are to go undercover across the UK to find out whether access to public transport has improved since they carried out a “damning” study six years ago.
Members of the Trailblazers network will check out buses, trains and taxis, and will examine access to stations, bus ramps, journey times, staff training and attitudes, and even the behaviour of fellow passengers.
Six years ago, another undercover Trailblazers investigation found that disabled people were struggling to use public transport, because of problems with safety, reliability and cost, as well as a lack of basic facilities at stations and on trains, and inflated prices for accessible taxis.
It concluded that “many young wheelchair-users and people with mobility difficulties face serious challenges when accessing public transport”, and it called on the government, local authorities, and transport providers, to review their accessibility policies.
The 2009 report was the first of Trailblazers’ Inclusion Now series of three investigations into public transport, education and leisure.
Now, six years on, Trailblazers will be asking whether transport providers kept their subsequent promises to improve services, particularly in the wake of the London 2012 Paralympics.
Sulaiman Khan, a member of Trailblazers who lives in London and uses a wheelchair, said: “I experience problems on a regular basis, just trying to get from A to B on public transport.
“A lot of train stations just don’t have the facilities for disabled people and I often find myself having to make my way to another station in the opposite direction of my destination, just so I can physically board the train.
“This not only adds to journey time, it also increases the cost of my ticket.
“Accessibility isn’t the only issue – poor staff knowledge and public attitudes towards disabled people are still commonplace.”
He pointed to the high-profile legal case taken by wheelchair-user Doug Paulley, who was refused access to the accessible space on a First Group bus, after a mother refused to move her pushchair.
In February, the Equality and Human Rights Commission decided to support Paulley in his bid to appeal to the Supreme Court, after he lost his case against First Bus in the court of appeal.
A spokesman for Muscular Dystrophy UK, which runs Trailblazers, said: “We want to hear from young people across the UK on their experiences using public transport.
“We want to find out whether promises from transport providers and local authorities are truly making a difference on the ground.”
To take part in the investigation, which will take place over the next three months, visit the Trailblazers website.
30 April 2015
News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com