Transport CommitteeWritten evidence from Mike Cain (DAT 03)

I am severely mobility impaired, have done some work with Rail Focus to test the facilities for disabled people who use assisted travel.

I also have done some “blind shopping” for Greater Manchester PTE to report the facilities for disable people using bus stations

My Major Concern is TAXIs

I frequently use what I call TAXIs but strictly speaking they are PRIVATE HIRE vehicles, even though the same call centre operates them.

I use saloon cars because I cannot use BLACK CABS because of the space inside makes using the grab bars and getting out/in a difficulty. Cabs which are defined as disabled friendly are even worse because they are higher and even more room inside.

My difficulty is that private cabs are not allowed in bus lanes whereas black cabs are. I sit in my car with the meter running and see black cabs and buses zooming past in the bus lane.

Nobody has been able to explain why this is.

Can you not recommend legislation?

I was at a disabled forum where we were discussing wheelchairs in taxis. In this case we meant BLACK Cabs and adapted vehicles.

One major problem seemed to be that wheelchairs are often carried sideways because of the time needed to place the securely front to back.

There is no legislation that requires wheelchairs to be carried securely and until there is an accident nobody will be aware of this common practice.

There is legislation to require the safe carrying of children (booster seats, seat belts etc) so why is there no legislation to which authorities can work.

Disabled Rail Assistance

Can you not recommend legislation?

This generally works very well and is an excellent service. I use it most times I travel and every time I make a journey not previously made.

It regularly fails when operators change plans in mid journey.

An example is a train going from Liverpool to Norwich—without any notice it was terminated at Nottingham and people were asked to transfer to another waiting train. No assistance was offered and if I had done as previously advised by the same company (remain in seat until the staff walked the empty train) I would have been returned to Liverpool. I only realised the train was being immediately used on another service when people began to board the train and were talking about going to Liverpool. If I had not received the help of other passengers (who were similarly unaware of the train re use) I would not have been able to catch the departing train. As it was I was at ‘the wrong end’ at Norwich because the train reverses several times and I had been seated originally at the location that would have arrived at the barrier end of Norwich. As it was I was at the very back of the train.

It also fails when say Virgin terminate a train short of Euston and expect their passengers to board an already full train heading towards Euston. Any reserved seats are not available (as are most other seats). I travel first class for the extra room and so when seats are not available it is a double blow.

I know seeking assistance of the train manager is an option and refunds are available.

However, I have no way of contacting the train manager and the lack of a comfortable seat means I am tired at the end of the journey and whilst I do seek refunds, I need to be rested at the end of a long journey and anything retrospective is not helpful.

There seem to have been improvements but I now contact the operators rather that the starting station as that gets a better response in arranging my journey.

Bus stations

Drop pavements and guide rails cause the most problems.

The drop pavements and tactile surfaces have the effect for me of catapulting me into the road way.

The slope is an issue. The “bobbles” in the surface indent to my soles and prevent me moving forward.

Any rail has been removed so it is not possible to stand steadily on the pavement edge.

I have watched other people avoiding the official crossings because of similar issues and seen people walking towards where a rail exists to get out of the roadway easily.

I notice that in all new developments there is an absence of rails which guide the visually impaired and indeed in existing stations, have been removed so that waiting people and those passing to other bus stands are not separated. To me a rail was a useful guide as a rest stop on the walk—now there is nothing

Priority Seats on Buses

Why is there no legislation to say that people MUST give up a priority seat to someone that needs it?

I saw a lady running for the bus, yet she remained silent when an obviously walking impaired person asked for a seat.

Can you not recommend legislation?

Baby Buggies on Buses

As space has been made more available, buggies have got larger and people seem to think that they can park their buggie in the wheelchair space and not offer to move them.

Similarly the driver can see only that the space is filled and has no inclination to implement what is supposed to be an operators guideline to facilitate wheelchairs and their users.

Can you not recommend legislation?

November 2012

Prepared 13th September 2013