Have the Paralympics made a difference to the life of disabled travellers in the UK? Some sending their stories to Channel 4 News today say yes, others still see public transport as off-limits.
Back in April Channel 4 News heard some horrendous stories of people having to crawl off trains or having to wait for hours for an accessible bus. Some reported more positive experiences such as helpful staff and accessible platforms at stations.
Today we are once again monitoring disabled travellers’ experiences of using public transport but this time during the Paralympics to see if conditions have improved.
Mathy Selvakumaran (@thatgirlmathy) from Sheffield is tweeting two days of her journeys to the Paralympics. Mathy has some mobility but also uses a collapsible wheelchair.
She told Channel 4 News her experiences over the last 24 hours have left her with mixed feelings about using public transport: “I wouldn’t say it put me off but travelling across London for me requires a lot more planning which is awkward and makes the journey a lot longer.”
Among the problems she encountered were unavailability of staff to help at underground stations which otherwise do not have wheelchair access. She also found some of the signs to lifts confusing.
— Mathy (@thatgirlmathy) September 5, 2012
Travellers today seem to have had more, though not uniformly, positive experiences. Via Twitter, Fran Brown told Channel 4 News her journey had been greatly improved by boarding ramps at Stratford Tube though her experience at a station without improved disabled access was difficult.
She had praise however for a less conventional form of transport now on offer in the capital – its cable car: “Emirates air line was great access and wonderful views.”
But Susan Cook’s day started off with problems. She told us: “Only train on platform leaving in 1 minute. Other train at least 10 minutes away. Sat on step and threw chair in over my head #nogobritain”
As Channel 4 News revealed, Transport for London has confirmed it is keeping the extra boarding ramps it has been using at key stations during the Olympics and Paralympics and it is considering if it can expand their availability to other stations. The organisation has invested millions of pounds into making the Games the most accessible ever and Mathy Selvakumaran says she senses there has been an improvement – largely in attitudes: “I came to London at the beginning of the year and obviously I’m here now for the Games. But people seem to be more willing to help – perhaps it’s the Paralympics effect.”
But some people have told us they are still put off travelling on public transport because they see it as off-limits.
— Catherine Alexander (@catherinea90) September 6, 2012