Transport CommitteeWritten evidence from Richard G. Dutton (DAT 76)

Here are a few observations on travel for disabled persons.

1. Main Line Rail Services

As a disabled person who uses a powered wheelchair, I often use train services. Over the past three years, the service has improved so much, I cannot find any faults. Staff are fully trained on how to treat disabled persons and are very helpful.

2. Bus Services

I have found that quite a lot of drivers are still not trained in disability awareness and do cause some hardship to disabled people, especially to those in wheelchairs.

I have seen disabled persons, especially females being left at bus stops because drivers do not or even refuse to deploy the bus ramp to gain access. If the ramp is not in proper working order, drivers often do not report the fact to their garage engineers for the fault to be rectified.

One or two bus companies do not even bother to test the ramps before the bus leaves the garage, giving the excuse that if the ramp does come out and does not go back in, the bus causes problems for other buses coming in or out of the garage.

3. Underground Train Services

Most Underground stations and trains are not accessible to wheelchair users. London Underground publishes a map showing where accessible stations are but they do NOT say whether the train is accessible.

Where a train is accessible, one can find out that the lift service at a station one may wish to use is not in working order and no notice is provided. This can be very distressful as the next accessible station may not have any other transport facility to get the disabled person back to their destination station.

4. Tram Services

The Croydon Tram Service cannot be faulted in any way. The staff are very helpful.

My overall view of the transport services in London, especially on the buses and the underground need a lot of improvement with penalties imposed for those companies that fail to meet a reasonable standard.

5. Transport Services Outside London

When using bus services outside of London, it is a lottery to find that some buses are accessible and other are not. This can mean a wait of extended periods to wait for an accessible bus or just giving up and going back home. One area that this happens is in the Kings Lynn area.

Also, a lot of bus services start late, (after 09.00am)and finish early (around 18.00pm) which makes for a very shortened visit to family or friends, especially if they live a long way away and it involves a train journey.

One company I can mention is Stagecoach in the Worthing area.

Also, their information phone line is a premium rated call and it can take quite a while to speak to an adviser for information.

February 2013

Prepared 13th September 2013