Public transport has “failed a generation of disabled people”


UK-wide report reveals lack of accessibility and routine discrimination faced by disabled travelers 

20th April 2016 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

A disabled campaigner has hit-out at local transport, which he believes is failing a generation of disabled people.

David Gale, from Lockerbie, took part in a nine-month undercover investigation as part of a national survey for the Muscular Dystrophy UK project Trailblazers, a network of 700 young disabled people across the UK.

Its End of the Line report shares disturbing experiences across buses, trains, taxis and the underground. 

Gale reveals a bleak picture of young disabled people turned away from journeys, facing abuse and left stranded across the region.

The UK-wide report finds shocking accounts of abuse and threats from staff and passengers, a disabled passenger hospitalised by the dangerous design of a bus, two thirds of disabled travellers denied boarding a bus due to the negative attitude of the driver or public, and a third of disabled people left stranded after taxis refused pick-up because of their disability.

The behaviour and attitude of transport staff and the public plays a big part in disabled people’s use of transport

Gale, who has Becker muscular dystrophy says respondents in Scotland voiced alarming experiences across buses, trains and taxis. He has campaigned for improvements to public transport, and tells of the importance of achieving an accessible network for disabled people.

He said: “Young disabled people in Scotland told alarming stories of feeling trapped and struggling with a transport network that neglects their needs. We heard of issues with taxi drivers unable to pick-up disabled people, leaving them stranded and out of options.

“Others reported being denied entry to buses, despite wheelchair spaces being available. 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.’’

Despite all the progress made, public transport still has a long way to go before it is truly compliant with the Equality Act 2010 and other disability discrimination legislation, states the report.

Tanvi Vyas, Trailblazers' manager, said: “It is disturbing to learn of such shocking experiences across Scotland. 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 Trailblazers, and ensure that transport works for everyone. No-one should be left behind.”