With just a few days away before the General Election, it’s never been so important to ensure that all the parties commit to give Transport access the priority it deserves.
Two weeks ago, Transport for All published its four demands for transport accessibility.
This week we’ve asked TfA members to explain why our four demands for accessible transport are so important to them and other Disabled and older people. Many transport services remain out of bounds for its disabled and older citizens. Physical barriers like flights of stairs, gaps and obstacles combined with the way transport services are run prevent many of us from getting out and about and living our lives like everyone else. Access to transport is vital in making this happen.
If you’re taking part in a hustings event with your candidates, don’t forget to ask them to sign up our four Demands for accessible transport.
1) Restore deferred Access for All funding and commit to continuing the scheme beyond 2019
“I travel to Hebden Bridge on a regular basis. The Manchester-bound platform is not accessible because the lift has been broken for 30 years. So I have to get off at Mytholmroyd and hope that an accessible taxi turns up, booked by Northern from Huddersfield, turns up, finds me, is accessible and knows the route to Hebden Bridge. This usually adds another 45 minutes to my journey. Hebden Bridge still has Access for All funding and is being made step free. But so many others aren’t.” – Doug Paulley
“I am very much in support of this. As a general rule, I think there is far too much focus on cutting essential services for Disabled people, which will, in the end, prove to be a false economy. Not only should this be reinstated and continued, but there should be final and complete clarification of the exact specifications (for individual stations, especially Ealing Broadway) – of the Crossrail project.” – Joshua Dennis
“I am very concerned by the lack of government support for Access for All Funding. I am blind and rely on tactile strips along the edge of platforms to prevent me from falling on to the tracks. There are still many stations which do not have these strips and I feel very unsafe when visiting these platforms.” – Yusuf Osman
2) Enshrine the right to access in law
“There have been so many times I have been discriminated against, that I have reached a point where I can’t dwell on it without feeling down, or feeling like I can’t travel at all. I haven’t yet tried to bring a case under the Equality Act“. – Anahita Harding
“When bringing cases under the Equality Act, I have faced great resistance from recalcitrant transport providers. I have had to engage considerable time, headspace and effort into bringing cases that are so straightforward anybody can see that the transport provider has discriminated. Any enforcement mechanism based upon individual legal action by those discriminated against is fundamentally flawed.” – Doug Paulley.
“I think disability rights in general should be clarified, protected and strengthened as a part of the Brexit negotiations.“ – Joshua Dennis
3) No more rail staff cuts
“There aren’t any staffs in the evenings at Lower Sydenham station, so while the station itself is accessible, it is rendered inaccessible by the lack of staff. This means that I can’t take the train in the evenings at all. During the day there is only one member of staff who works at the ticket office and has to leave the booth in order to put the ramp out.” – Anahita Harding:
“Traveling back from my great aunt’s funeral was made much more difficult because the station closest to the crematorium was only staffed until 1pm and the train was Driver Only. There was nobody to put a ramp down. I was therefore reliant on a wheelchair accessible taxi, which the company only got round to booking on the day of the funeral – I had to take several telephone calls in the wake. All very distressing, and all avoidable if there were station staff or a guard on the train.“ – Doug Paulley
“I went to Egham with my daughter to view a wheelchair. The journey there went well with ramps supplied at Waterloo and staff at Egham waiting. However, the return journey was not as successful. We arrived at the station and asked the member of staff at the ticket office if she would arrange for a ramp so that I could board the train. She refused saying that she had had no training and it was not her responsibility to assist disabled people onto trains. She said she had no way of contacting the next train and left us to our own devices. Our train came and went as we stood helplessly on the platform wondering how we would get home. Along came the next train and, joy of joy, a Guard saw us and deployed a ramp that was on the train ready for such occurrences. He phoned Waterloo Station to inform them that I would need ramp assistance to alight from the train. All went well but only because the guard was alert to my needs and of course that there was a guard on the train. Guards are an absolute necessity and a safeguard for disabled people giving them confidence to access public transport as is their right.“ – Gwynneth Pedler
“This is very poor and is becoming more noticeable as time goes on. Eventually, it seems that there will be a serious emergency – and there will be no one around to help. Personally, not only would I like to see this reversed, but I would also like the provision of the RADAR Accessible Toilet Key Scheme – made a mandatory requirement when installing all accessible toilets across the transport network, and across all modes – but particularly the Tube and National Rail stations. Making independent travellers like myself wait to use the toilet on my travels, (while someone brings the key) when it’s simply not necessary, is extremely frustrating.“ – Joshua Dennis
“I am blind and without staff to guide me to and from trains I would not be able to use the national rail network at all. This would mean that I would be unable to continue the PhD that I am undertaking and all the voluntary work that I do.“ – Yusuf Osman
4) Strengthen the law around wheelchair priority on buses
“It happens so often that the wheelchair space is occupied, and I’ve had to figure out the best bus stops or times of the day when this is least likely to happen. Because it happens so often, sometimes I can’t bring myself to go out at all- I hate having confrontations, and having to justify why I “deserve” a space on a bus like everyone else.“ – Anahita Harding
“My experiences have meant that I am put off traveling on buses. If I have to do so, I have to make sure I go for an earlier bus than I need, just in case there’s this issue, and I find myself examining the bus queue for people with pushchairs – if there are such people I have this great nervousness as to whether there’s going to be confrontation or stress.“ – Doug Paulley
“When I am prevented from getting on a bus because the space is occupied by a buggy user who isn’t prepared to move, I feel a rage which says “Wheelchair users didn’t chain yourself to a bus in the 90’s in order to get a buggy space”. There was a time when I turned up late to a class because of not being able to get on a bus.“ – Sally O’Connor
“More than happy to advocate for this. The lack of clarity in this area is proving very difficult and continues to cause conflict. Drivers remain reluctant and/or do not know the guidelines for the resolution of conflict in this area. As a former Buses Directorate employee at TfL, I do understand that there is progress being made – but far greater clarity is needed. The principle is that passengers should/will work together to resolve any issues, but the time constraints on the average London commute and lack of understanding for disabled travellers continues to cause friction. Clearer, legally enforceable guidelines would clear this up.“ – Joshua Dennis