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There’s never been a better time to speak up for accessible transport

Added: 26 March 2012 | Updated: 27 March 2012

Both the Mayoral elections and the Olympic and Paralympic Games this year are a huge chance to get out the message: disabled and older people should be able to travel with the same freedom and independence as everyone else.

Last night saw the first of a series of reports on Channel 4 about the issues disabled people face when using transport across London and the rest of the UK. The report covered TfA’s recent demonstration outside City Hall as we took our five manifesto demands to the current Mayor of London. You can watch the report here: http://youtu.be/YHG86on7dlg

After the election, we will be inviting all our members to welcome their new Assembly Member to office by taking her or him on a trip, to see the reality of travelling as a disabled or older person.

But with one month to go before the elections, what can you do now to highlight the barriers we face in using public transport?

  • Contact your local paper and ask them to write about any barriers you face using local transport. For example, what problems do you face on local buses, or is there a local station which presents access issues? An ‘Olympics and Paralympics slant’ is a good one at the moment. You could ask the journalist to accompany you on a journey to an Olympic or Paralympic venue. If you’re not sure who to contact, Transport for All (0207 737 2339) can put you in touch with a local journalist.
  • Contact the GLA candidates in your area with a copy of Transport for All’s Manifesto and ask what they’ll do to make London’s transport accessible if they are voted in. You can find a list of every candidate at www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Assembly_election,_2012 – or phone TfA.
  • Keep complaining! Transport for All runs the only dedicated information hotline specialising in accessible transport. Run by disabled people for disabled people it is open 10am – 5pm Monday to Friday. (Tel: 0207 737 2339). Every one of your complaints shows politicians and transport providers that current access to transport is not good enough.
  • Join Transport for All – and consider joining your local Transport Action Group. With active groups in Newham, Redbridge, Ealing, Brent and Lambeth; and groups setting up in Hounslow and Havering, this is a great way to link up with other people who want to campaign for a transport system we can all use.

As an organisation working to make London’s transport accessible, we have long felt that there is a need for campaigners to press for an accessible transport network on a national level.

So it’s great that not one, but two new campaigns have been set up to highlight the lack of accessible transport in the UK as a whole.

No Go Britain

Channel 4 have asked disabled people across the country to share their travel experiences and guide further new pieces by Channel 4 News. You can share stories through their Facebook page or upload a film at their Youtube channel.

They state: “No Go Britain will ask disabled viewers and users for their experiences of public transport across the UK. The project will engage with public transport users, charities, transport companies and policymakers”.

A2B campaign

This is another exciting initiative co-founded by Unity Law, a company based in Sheffield. They approached us a while back and we have worked with them to promote their nationwide campaign on improving accessible transport. Spearheading their campaign is Dame Tanni Grey Thompson – former Paralympian and Transport for London Board Member. It is great to see Dame Tanni finally using her media profile to promote the cause of accessible transport and we fully support the campaign!

Unity Law have also been doing groundbreaking work with the Darlington Action on Disability to take Bus company Arriva to court over its poor customer service to disabled people. It’s seems whether you live in Darlington, Dundee or Dalston the same issues crop up again and again. Ramps not working and pushchairs in the wheelchair space are common problems shared by many disabled people.

This seminal legal case could result in some hugely significant wins for disabled people as we grapple with transport providers who do not take our issues and concern as seriously as we would like!

Importantly, Unity Law are looking for people who may have a legal case against a transport provider. If you think that you might have a case against a transport provider, you can contact them through their Facebook page.