Transport CommitteeWritten evidence from Gillian Hill (DAT 05)

I have just listened to a piece on Radio 4’s programme You and Yours in which you asked for personal experiences using public transport. I live in a small Lancashire market town but find it almost impossible to use public transport to visit places like Manchester or London. I can get to Manchester by train if I make arrangements in advance for help to get my scooter on and off the train, but once in Manchester, the Metrolink trams do not take scooters, and taxis can only take me to streets where there are no tramlines. Hence on one occasion I wished to visit the City Art Gallery but had to be dropped two streets away from the entrance. Travel to London has given me such bad experiences that I would not willingly go by train again. For example, I was booked into a seat without space for my scooter, so had to get on another train resulting in there being no help at Euston to get off. Fortunately my husband was with me and he had to leave me on the train and go looking for help. I had previously asked three times for the train conductor to contact Euston for me, while I as on the train. My return journey was a nightmare as there was a signal failure on the West Coast line and passengers were asked to use a route from St. Pancras via Sheffield, York and Manchester. I could not do this as there was no help or wheelchair spaces available. My husband and I had to find a hotel for an extra night resulting in me running out of important medication. I subsequently learnt that only two wheelchair spaces are available on any one long distance West coast line train! My husband and I are both in our 70’s and have various health issues. I am still able to drive but, should I cease to be able to use the car, I would be confined to the town where I live, which is 40 miles away from my son and his family.

I hope these issues which have happened in the last three or four years will help you to understand how complex travel can be for someone with limited mobility, using wheelchair or mobility scooter. thank you for looking at these issues.

November 2012

Prepared 13th September 2013