Transport CommitteeWritten evidence of Bradford Mobility Planning Group (DAT 37)

The Bradford Mobility Planning Group (MPG) is a local authority supported; user led organisation which enables service users and service providers to interact to discuss mutually beneficial improvements to the service offered to the public in the Bradford Metropolitan district. MPG’s public members are drawn currently exclusively from the disabled population and although the group is an associated member of the wider Bradford Strategic Disability Partnership; MPG is not a disabled group per-se, as its aims are to improve public transport provision and the public realm for all citizens and visitors to Bradford.

MPG’s service providers representation include Hackney and private hire taxi operators, Northern Trains, Grand Central Railways, Transdev, First, Arriva along with West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority (Metro) and our public members have a range of disabilities including the physically disabled, those with sight loss, hearing loss and learning difficulties.

It is right to say that extra resources have been put into services and facilities for disabled people over the years through various local, regional and national initiatives which are to be applauded and encouraged. There are also many examples of good practice from service providers the Equalities Act.

History

Bradford was granted city status in 1897 and the present metropolitan district including the towns and villages of Bingley, Keighley, Ilkley and Shipley was created in 1974. The population of the district is around 520,000 and of which some 85,000 (2001 figures) think that they have a disability or long term limiting illness.

The topography of Bradford is such that it is said that like Rome it is “built on 7 hills” with all major routes out of the city centre encountering a hill at some stage; the city centre itself being built across a very steep hill.

Bradford is at the end of a canal tributary off of the Leeds Liverpool Canal at Shipley but which is now unused. There are two main line railway stations in the city centre: Bradford Forster Square serving Skipton (via Keighley), Ilkley and Leeds using 25kv electric multiple units of classes 333, and 321 or 320 supplemented by Pacer classes 142,144 and Sprinter types of class 150, 153,155, 156 and Class 158. Bradford has two direct Inter-city services to London via Leeds that run also from Forster Square Station. The other station: Bradford Interchange also serves London by Grand Central Railway three times a day and the Northern Trains franchise operating to Manchester, Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds, York and Selby. Unfortunately there are no plans to “link” the two stations, which are less than a mile apart since the Midland Railway’s plan of 1906. Shipley station is the only remaining triangular station left in the country and Keighley station also serves the volunteer Keighley and Worth Valley Railway to Oxenhope.

Bradford Interchange also houses the remnants of the former largest travel interchange in western Europe which in addition to the four platform railway station also houses a 29 stand bus and coach station; although not all of the busses actually go to the Interchange; making use of on-street stops in and around the city centre.

The city is also at the end of the M606 motorway which spurs off the M62 at Junction 26. The district has its fare share of A Roads linking to other major conurbations that share a border with the district.

Leeds Bradford International Airport is outside the Bradford District at Yeadon which is part of Leeds; it is served by regular busses to both Leeds and Bradford though there are plans to bring either Tram-Train or even heavy rail to the airport in due course.

Mobility Planning Group (MPG)

Operator members of the Mobility Planning Group share their good practice and new ideas with the group for feedback.

Public members also bring their experiences of transport providers along with difficulties that they have experienced in the public realm.

The MPG along with the Bradford Strategic Disability Partnership (of which we are an associate member group) has campaigned for Bradford Metropolitan District Council (CMDC) to enforce its own policy on removing advertising “A boards” and displays of merchandise such to aid free movement around the public realm; successfully.

Problems Reported to MPG

1.1 Gritting Routes: areas of the district—where a number of ambulatory disabled people live are not gritted making those people’s ability to get about significantly more difficult.

1.2 Inconsiderate Parking: especially in delineated blue badge bays by people not displaying the appropriate badge and in bus lay-bys. The BMDC along with West Yorkshire ITA (Metro) has spent a considerable sum making all bus stops on the 637/638 routes suitable for level access between the curb and the bus—without the bus having to kneel—however, cars are often found parked in the lay-bys or in front of the stops making it difficult for anyone wheelchair bound to access the bus.

1.3 Priority seating for disabled or pram users causing problems as pram users are unwilling to lower their pram to afford disabled people access; if there is no space the wheel chair user often has to let the bus go and wait for the next one, or the bus after that which with only two busses (off peak on most routes) an hour could mean an hour wait.

1.4 Railway support not available at the end station or at intermediate changing stations when it has been requested in advance in a timely fashion.

1.5 First Bus “Help” cards not being recognised by drivers.

1.6 Local Private Hire taxis charging disabled people up to 100% more for the same journey as a non-disabled person; this is subject to a campaign from Keighley People First who sadly have too many examples of this happening.

1.7 Public footpath blocked by advertising “A Boards” and/or retailer’s merchandise.

1.8 No auditory or display of where a bus is en route making hard for deaf and those with vision difficulties to move about.

1.9 Poor public address on trains—such that people with auditory loss cannot make out what is being said.

1.10 Having to stand-up on trains because no seat of any kind is available or that one is able to manoeuvre to due to significant loads on said train—this affects those with chronic pain conditions.

1.11 Poor lighting in the public realm that can not only discourage people from attending due to safety concerns but can also make the movement around said location difficult this is especially so for those with sight difficulties and could be avoided by better planning at the initial stage.

1.12 People with learning difficulties are often glad to just get a service irrespective of how poor that service may be in delivery.

Positive Developments

2.1 A “way finding” initiative to make movement around Bradford Interchange’s upper concourse easier for those with limited vision.

2.2 Introduction of dropped curbs on stretches of the main routes into the city centre to aid those in wheelchairs or with prams.

2.3 Extending crossing times and the provision of RADAR monitoring of one very wide PELICAN crossing introduced as part of the City Park Development.

2.4 Use of non-slip paving as part of the City Park Development.

2.5 Provision of ramps on the train for those in wheelchairs or with prams.

2.6 Introduction of “I’m Lost” help cards and locations for those with learning difficulties.

2.7 Introduction of “Help” cards to assist those with hearing, vision or ambulatory problems on First Busses.

2.8 Scheme to validate to size of “scooters” operated by the major bus companies to avoid arguments when presenting oneself at the bus stop—if your scooter is the okay for the bus you get a photo-card licence.

2.9 National Express Disabled Discount Card giving a 1/3 off the price of your ticket—similar to rail scheme.

2.10 National Express introducing lifts to all of their vehicles to lift ambulatory disabled people up to the front of the coach in their own chair which is then locked into position by the driver at the front of the coach.

January 2013

Prepared 13th September 2013