27 Mar 2012

No Go Britain: ‘Using public transport can be horrific’

As Channel 4 News investigates the state of public transport for disabled users with No Go Britain, we hear from campaign group A2B which is fighting a legal battle for the “Darlington 16”.

A2BForAll is a disability rights campaign group set up to highlight the issues that disabled passengers are facing daily when using public transport, writes Julia Ruane.

Our aim is to reduce the discrimination that is taking place towards disabled people by putting into place a long-term strategy that will improve the quality of service for not just disabled passengers, but for all who use public transport.

We have been speaking with disabled people and organisations across the country and one thing is clear – disabled passengers are being treated like second class citizens. There are some good examples that exist of helpful staff members and good policies but the overwhelming response we have had is that using public transport can be a horrific experience.

Read more: No Go Britain - disabled passengers 'stranded' and 'lost'

Research we commissioned this year shows that 51 per cent of public transport users with a disability have felt discriminated against when trying to use public transport, with 38 per cent reporting being victims of regular discriminatory behaviour.

The overwhelming response we have had is that using public transport can be a horrific experience.

Over half of those surveyed have felt forced to find other ways to travel because of the treatment they receive on public transport. And 27 per cent have stopped using it altogether because of the discrimination and difficulties they face. However, for a quarter (25 per cent) of respondents, this isn’t possible as they don’t have any other options open to them.

To make a change we are pushing for legal action. A single voice will not make a difference but many voices together can be heard. Our legal partners, the disability discrimination experts Unity Law, are working with us to use the law, specifically the Equality Act 2010, to bring about change. Together we are already representing 12 people in Darlington against Arriva buses, to bring about better staff training and more accessible vehicles.

The overall aims of our campaign are to establish a regulator, funded by the industry, to:
• Ensure ongoing training to all customer-facing public transport staff
• Regulate a minimum standard of compulsory training
• Maintain a centralised register of complaints as an essential part of the process of awarding, regulating and renewing franchises

To support the campaign you can sign the epetition “Fight discrimination against disabled passengers on UK public transport” on the government epetitions website.

In the meantime we are working closely with Channel 4 News to help keep this issue in the public eye and raise awareness of the everyday difficulties disabled passengers are having to endure.

Julia Ruane is the media director working for A2BForAll.