Published on 27 Feb 2013 Sections

Transport for disabled has ‘long way to go’ says Cockroft

Six months on from the Paralympics, double gold medallist Hannah Cockroft tells Channel 4 News that public transport for disabled people still has a “long, long way to go”.

Hannah Cockroft’s comments came as she launched a report on the legacy of the London 2012 Games which reflects many of the issues raised by contributors to our No Go Britain series.

Generation Inspired? makes five recommendations, including a call for transport operators to treat young disabled people like any other passenger.

According to Cockroft there have been improvements since the Games, but equality is still far from reality.

One of her main complaints is being asked to book a train journey in advance: “My response to that is always ‘did you book to walk on the train?’

“This wheelchair is my way of walking. I shouldn’t have to book a ramp to get on a train … it’s something that needs sorting so hopefully someone will listen and someone will help us.

The young wheelchair users we speak to tell us they face invisible and visible barriers every day. It’s essential to keep on challenging these. Whizz-Kidz Chief Executive Ruth Owen

“Even if you do book it’s no guarantee someone will turn up so it makes no difference really.”

David Sindall, Head of Disability and Inclusion for the Association of Train Operating Companies told Channel 4 News that facilities for disabled passengers “are better now than they’ve ever been.”

He added: “Record numbers of disabled people are choosing to travel by train.

“A new multi-million pound booking system is making it quicker, easier and simpler for disabled passengers to book ahead so they can get the help that they need during their journey.”

‘It is getting better’

Buses also remain a problem for people who use wheelchairs Cockroft said: “Most of my friends are in wheelchairs but most buses only have one wheelchair space so you have to travel separately.

“We want to be treated just like every other member of the community and society. I’m 20-years-old and want to go out there and be with my friends.

“There are still problems. It is getting better and people are trying to help and accommodate with that but there is sill a long, long way to go.”

Generation Inspired? which has been commissioned by Whizz-Kidz also calls for communities to work together to improve opportunities for children to get involved in sport.

The charity’s Chief Executive Ruth Owen said: “The London Paralympics shone a spotlight on the talent, skill and ambition of disabled people. However it will be a hugely missed opportunity if we don’t capitalise on the legacy of the Games – and not just to create more access to sport, but to offer greater opportunity for young disabled people across all areas of society.

“The young wheelchair users we speak to tell us they face invisible and visible barriers every day. It’s essential to keep on challenging these and make an enduring difference.”