Transport CommitteeWritten evidence from Pauline Melham (DAT 100)

I am writing about the accessibility of public transport for disabled people. Firstly, I should let you know where I am coming from, I am partially sighted, although registered as blind because of the extent of my visual loss. I live in London and for a long time I was a white cane user, but I am now a Guide Dog Owner. Therefore, what I am writing is based on my own experiences, rather than trying to represent a wider group of people.

As far as the accessibility of public transport in London is concerned for me it has its good and bad points. I use buses to get to work and often to go shopping on the weekends. I tend to only use regular bus routes that I am familiar with though, as I still need to know:

1. Where to get the bus from.

2. Which bus is coming.

3. Where the bus is going to drop me.

4. How to get from where the bus drops me to where I am going.

So, I tend to use routes that I’ve had mobility training on so that I know where the bus stop is and where I have to go when I get off the bus. In terms of the buses I use, have talking buses is a godsend, as it means that even if its dark or rainy and difficult to see, I still know where I am because the bus is telling me, this makes using buses a great deal easier. It’s also easier if I am trying an unfamiliar route and someone says to me, “get off at the West Barnes Level Crossing” because I will know when I’ve got there.

I do find it difficult to know which bus is coming along as I cannot read the numbers and I end up just waving down anything that comes along and having to apologise if it’s the wrong bus.

Sometimes friends have said things to me such as “getting to Waterloo from Euston is easy, you just take bus number ??? and get off when you hear it say ???” I’m much less likely to try this for the reasons mentioned above, I cannot find the bus stop, I can probably figure out which bus I want even if I’ve had to hail several, but then I have no idea how to get from where it drops me to where I’m going.

I also sometimes find it hard to communicate with the bus driver because they are shut behind glass and hard to hear, so it makes communicating with them quite hard at times. I have to say that most of the drivers on my regular routes are very good though.

In terms of trains, I find these much easier as they tend to announce the stops. I’m more likely to use main stations where there are easy taxi links so that I can get a taxi to wherever I’m going if I don’t know how else to do it. Again, if vie received mobility training then I’m quite comfortable on the trains and I use them regularly. The assistance at train stations is usually very good.

The tubes are great for me, as the staff are excellent, they are really helpful. I can find my way around most stations but I need some assistance in a few of the bigger ones. Still, I find the staff more than willing to help and you don’t have to book that assistance in advance which is great. Again, it helps if the tubes announce the stops as they go along and several of the lines do that now.

June 2013

Prepared 13th September 2013