Transport CommitteeResponses to Committee Web Forum (DAT 108)

A web forum inviting contributions to the inquiry was launched on 8 May 2013 and ran until 7 June 2013. It was advertised using:

The Committee’s website.

A press release.

The Committee’s Twitter account.

Retweets in the Twitter accounts of some Members.

Twitter accounts and newsletter articles of organisations interested in the Inquiry.

Submissions were invited from people with disabilities, from their carers and from transport operators on three broad themes:

Physical accessibility.

Travel information.

Staff assistance.

The contributions received are transcribed below.

Physical Accessibility

Steve Manchip:

June 05, 2013 at 10:37 PM

Cuts in council budgets are effecting rural services disproportionately. Major Operators such as First, Stagecoach and Aviva cherry pick the denser routes, leaving smaller operators and community buses to try and serve most rural low density areas.

Small operators rely on support from the Councils which is not over generous and likely to be reduced. Community buses rely on volunteers and fund raising to allow them to fund low density routes which very often have a fair proportion of passengers with real mobility problems. Richer commuters and second home owners make very little effort to support these services as they are not affected and generally show little interest in the communities which they have invaded. Further cuts will move more disabled and people with age related mobility problems from their homes into town based homes or sheltered accommodation where they will be more isolated than before.

You need to consult the smaller operators or voluntary community bus service providers to get the true picture. This has not been done because it needs real concern to tackle the problem properly, l am the Chairman of a charity that has provided accessible transport to a very rural area for the past 35 years. No one, politicians or civil servants, has talked to us or visited us for fact finding at any time. What is the real agenda for politicians at national level regarding people with real mobility problems or those in wheel chairs, There are more votes in conurbations and they are easier to conveniently access. Make an effort and find the real problems. The town ones are far easier to solve with far less personal effort or commitment. Not enough votes in real rural areas only the pretend ones next to larger towns and cities.

Mark Smith:

June 05, 2013 at 04:55 PM


Here in Norwich I am really pleased to note that most public buses are now level floor access and have a low front step and this is often deployed by the drivers.

Bus Driver awareness of blind passengers I often find is good, but some bus drivers do not verbally acknowledge me when I get on the bus or give any indication where an empty seat is, leaving me to either ask other passengers or feel my way along the rows of seats. Often other passengers will assist me, especially using regular routes and buses going to and from work.

The bus stops are plentiful and good in Norwich, but I’m very disappointed that the planned talking bus stop audio information services is still not up and running. This is especially frustrating when the necessary Software and hardware has been installed at certain central bus stops in Norwich City Centre. This would aid so many visually impaired bus users when at a bus stop to know which bus has filled up and where it’s going etc.


Local private hire taxis in Norwich are very good, and it helps using the same firm all the time and getting to know the drivers. I am still somewhat puzzled why though the costs vary so much for private hire taxis around the country, as Norwich compared to Ipswich and York is £2 or £3 more per journey.

RCHL Green Lodge Respite Care Unit:

June 05, 2013 at 11:17 AM

A comment from a parent whose son/daughter uses Green Lodge: I would like to see resources set aside for the provision of wheelchair access to station platforms at Redbridge Station this has not been done for 36 years and is urgent

Bill Norman:

June 04, 2013 at 01:29 PM


Buses tend to be variable depending on route and bus operator.

Bus stations are again variable in accessibility.

Manual ramps tending to be reintroduced after issues with automatics and drooped kerbs.

There are significant issues re ticket machines and ticket barriers at train and local Metro stations.

Low liners now in place on all routes I believe.

Airport now has a changing place and is reasonably accessible. This was a result of excellent campaigning by Mencap and Council colleagues.

David Froggat:

June 04, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Situation improving, but still many older buses in use which do not have dropped floors and sufficient space for a guide dog to lie out of the gangway with consequent risk of injury to the dog and anyone who may stumble over it.

Chris Odell:

June 04, 2013 at 11:33 AM

The space on buses for guide dog owners (GDO) is limited. Space under seats is not suitable and the dogs slide on the floor. Non-slip floors and designated areas would be helpful. Also, drivers are often reluctant to help you find a seat or wait for you to sit before moving off. Driver training is needed.

Jo Church:

June 04, 2013 at 10:38 AM

I would like to raise my concerns regarding the new Routemaster buses currently being introduced on some London bus routes.

It is my understanding that these busses have 2 staircases and yet still only have space for 1 wheelchair. Please can you explain to me why this is so? Surely a more inclusive bus would have that the other way around—ie 1 staircase and spaces for 2 wheelchairs!

I would wager that the designers of these busses have never actually used one, as if they had, they would realise that non seating areas are very useful spaces, not only used by wheelchair users, but by those with prams and those travelling with large, bulky items or luggage. Why on earth does a bus need 2 staircases?!

Also, if you happen to be travelling with another wheelchair user, you have to get separate busses (that’s only when the driver will let you on of course, as all too often they use the “we’re too full, you’ll have to get the next one” line, or “my ramps not working”—which on several occasions I have proven them to be liars as ok, they’re right—the ramp will not work if the door is open!) Why couldn’t accommodating 2 wheelchairs on a bus have been their priority rather than staircases? New York City busses all have space for 2 wheelchairs, Zurich busses have vast open areas which can accommodate many wheelchairs, and pushchairs AND people with bulky luggage no problem! Why are we not following their examples?


June 03, 2013 at 02:54 PM

Older buses without low floors or seating arrangements with additional space are difficult to use as they do not accommodate guide dogs well. These vehicles require my guide dog to lie underneath the seat which my current dog is unwilling to do. Modern buses usually only allow for one seat which provides more space and this is usually occupied by people with push chairs. Lothian Buses in Edinburgh should be praised for introducing new buses that have more than one seat with additional space at the front of the bus. Many train station platforms do not have tactile surfacing at the platform edge. The impact this has for visually impaired people is that they are unaware of the proximity of the platform edge. In my case I have fallen off the platform on to electrified rails and I also know of other people that have faced the same experience. I have raised the installation of tactile surfacing at Belgrove, High Street, Glasgow Queen Street low level, Glasgow Central low and high level, Argyll Street and Exhibition Centre stations with Network Rail and Transport Scotland who informed me that it is too expensive to install tactile surfacing at these stations. Perhaps they will do so once a visually impaired person is killed as a result of falling in front of a train.

Vikki Thompson:

June 03, 2013 at 02:35 PM

I disagree completely that buses are inaccessible to visually impaired people in my experience. I am registered blind, own a guide dog and use a bus to get to work and return home every day. It seems like I never see the same bus driver twice. My dog takes me to the door of the bus and we get on. I pass my bus pass to the driver who puts it on the machine for me and hands it back to me with my ticket. When I ask him where there is a free seat that has room for my dog, 99% of them will tell me exactly where to find one and if necessary ask anyone in that seat politely if they would allow us to sit there. The driver will then shout to me when we have reached my stop and will sometimes even tell me if we’re not right at our stop because of other buses in front. Almost all drivers are very helpful and we’ve only ever had one problem out of the thousands of times I have used buses in and around Edinburgh.

Sheila Foster:

June 03, 2013 at 02:15 PM

1. Although stepping on a bus is not too difficult for me, once on the bus, trying to find a seat and a bar to hold on to is like a maze. Why can’t all buses be laid out in the same way?. Trying to find something to hold on to when moving down the bus in order to get off is a dangerous nightmare.

2. Riding on the bus without knowing where I am is very stressful. If I miss my correct stop and then get off the bus, I am completely lost. If all buses had audible announcements, I would be able to relax, knowing exactly where I was, just like all the other passengers. Trams and trains have announcements, so should the buses.

3. Most drivers still need awareness training to help them understand how important it is to stop right up to the kerb, leaving no gaps. Also, to wait till I am sat down before moving.

Life for a blind person is a constant use of intense concentration and stress. These few small adjustments would make our bus journeys much more relaxing, and give us the confidence to travel more. After all, we are only asking for the same experience that other passengers take for granted.


June 03, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Most buses in London are OK as long as their announcements work.

Main problem is lack of accessible signage. I book disabled assistance on the trains mostly because I cannot see the signage to the Way Out.

London Underground there is so much variation between excellent and very poor.

Robert Latham:

June 02, 2013 at 06:07 PM

Buses in the North East are reasonably easy to get on and off. Some of the bus shelters are significantly set back from the road and so my guide dog and I miss them. There is also a huge problem with vandalism and glass not being cleared up quickly. Most of the bus stations I use apparently look very nice but they are almost impossible for me to navigate independently because of fixed closely positioned seating areas, noticeboards and a severe lack of customer service staff.

Rosemary Berks:

June 02, 2013 at 05:07 PM

I am a Senior Manager at Darlington Association on Disability, which is led by disabled people. These are the comments from some of the disabled people who attend our Independent Living Hub:

Taxi Travel

Taxi travel is really difficult, nigh on impossible with most accessible taxis booked up with school runs 8am-9.30am, 3pm-5pm. There are virtually no taxis available weekends or later in the evening.

When you do get an accessible taxi it costs at least twice as much as saloon taxis.

Taxis drivers are often not very helpful, eg I have to ask for my wheelchair to be folded up and put into the boot of a saloon taxi and feel upset when the driver makes it clear he does not want to do this. This makes me anxious, stressed, so most of the time I don’t go out.

People my age go to pubs and clubs. I lose out on a social life because I can’t get a taxi after 8pm.

Some taxi drivers ask personal and inappropriate questions. They see my physical impairment, as I need to sit in the front seat. Comments like, “what’s the matter with you then?” and “what happened to your leg?” make my journey awkward to say the least. I just want to get on with my journey.

You are left stranded if an accessible taxi cannot be found while you are out and about.

Taxis are generally difficult to use and book. Also it is expensive—£14 per trip—meaning that I can’t afford it. My mobility allowance doesn’t stretch that far.

Getting accessible taxis is difficult as you could be waiting in the cold for a long time, and when using electric or manual wheelchairs means it is difficult to hold an umbrella if it rains—need to control the wheelchair.

Taxi drivers were not very helpful, if we had shopping the drivers would often be reluctant to help with that and my wheelchair.

We need more accessible taxis that can be booked straight away, or even just an hour in advance.

We would like more funding for accessible transport.

We should not have to pay double for accessible taxis.

9/10 times, accessible taxis are full or overbooked, and are very hard to get when doing contract work (eg school run hours).

We should consult with other countries who get disabled travel right.

We need more disability and deaf awareness training for bus and taxi drivers.

Prices should be consistent with regular taxi journeys, and companies should charge similar rates.

We need to be able to get an accessible taxis any hour of the day, not just 9am-3pm.

Need incentives to get more taxi drivers trained up by disabled trainers.

Bus Travel

I’ve had to wait for several busses to pass before I could get on, as the wheelchair users space was taken up by pushchairs and shopping.

People don’t give me enough time to get myself seated before they drive off, so it makes them difficult to use.

Drivers need to be trained by disabled people who can share experiences, positive and negative.

Drivers should have sign language training, there is no point in them raising their voice, I can’t hear them.

Some drivers are reluctant to put the ramp down. I am a wheelchair user and cannot do without the ramp. I have also experienced the driver not being able to get ramp out because he said it was “screwed down”.

I don’t use busses now because I have had many bad experiences. This means I don’t go out much, as I can’t afford the taxi fares.

I have no Arriva buses eg when I tried to cross the road, one was parked over a dropped kerb. I had to go between two buses parked close together, one in from of the other. My support worker helped to guide me through and I managed to get on to the pavement. I spoke to the driver, he just said “I’m only going to be a few minutes, what do you expect me to do, he’s in front of me.” There was plenty of space behind for him to park. I received no apology from him.

Bus travel is ok, but due to lack of use and dirt/grime etc, the wheelchair lift on standard buses often gets stuck, meaning it will not move.

Buses are not consistent on the routes, so never sure if it will be an accessible bus turning up.

We need more consistency on bus routes and trust in terms of accessible vehicles.


In my experience trains have only one carriage which has an accessible toilet. When travelling, often the toilet is out of order for the whole of my journey, which is at least 2 and a half hours. This adds to the worry disabled people face when travelling.

Train services need to be supported with more station helpers, as people feel very vulnerable if they have no help.

I was involved in a Department of Health consultation in co-production with Local Authorities and needed to travel to meetings held in London.

The people who arranged accessible transport for me did an excellent job and I’m sure this became a huge learning experience for them as they realised how difficult it was to get a vehicle with a tail lift.

On the last scheduled day of this piece of work, we had to deliver our findings to an audience of representatives from Health and Local Authorities, Adult Social Care.

My “accessible transport” arrived to take myself and my Support Worker to the venue in Whitehall. Whilst my colleagues and invited guests arrived in taxis etc, I arrived in a Patient Transport Ambulance, the driver in full NHS green uniform—not quite what I had envisaged.


Until government makes it a priority and public transport becomes truly accessible, disabled people will continue to be excluded from society. Governments should directly engage with user led Disability Organisation who have knowledge and expertise and can share best practice guidelines. This, if acted upon, has the potential to make life a lot more inclusive.

Gordon Pybus:

June 02, 2013 at 05:04 PM

Response from Gordon Pybus, Chair, Darlington Association on Disability


The Government timescale to have all buses and coaches fully wheelchair accessible will not be complete until 2020, however, the minimum criteria is for one wheelchair space on a bus/coach and that is what bus companies are installing. However, it has been demonstrated and highlighted in the case against Arriva that wheelchair users do not have priority to use this space which makes buses virtually useless for wheelchair users who need to rely on them.

Bus Stops

A lot of tax payers’ money has been used to heighten bus stops so that it is easier for wheelchair users to access buses, however, bus drivers constantly stop their vehicles either too far away from the kerb or before or after the designated raised area.

In general, the information at bus stops for people with a visual impairment is non-existent even to the point of trying to locate a bus stop.

“Hail and ride” services are no good. Even though they may have some benefit for some people with mobility impairments, they prevent anyone with a visual impairment from using buses as they cannot see whether a bus is coming down the road to be able to hail it.


There is a big shortage of wheelchair access hackneys and private hire vehicles and there always will be until the Government brings in legislation to force the taxi companies to have a good percentage of accessible vehicles covering a 24/7 period.

Despite disability discrimination legislation, there is a reluctance from taxi operators to carry assistance dogs. There is also a lack of disability awareness in the majority of drivers, an example being dropping off someone who has a visual impairment close to their destination (but not actually at it) and not even informing that person which side of the road they are on.

Taxi Offices

There are not many accessible taxi offices and it is often the case that where most people can sit inside the warmth and comfort of a taxi office waiting for their cab, wheelchair users have to wait outside on the pavement often in all kinds of weathers.


There is a lack of enforcement on trains in general to keep the wheelchair allocated space free. There is often luggage in the designated wheelchair space on the larger inter-city trains and cycles in the designated space on the local and cross-country trains.

Where a wheelchair user can book in advance for a space on an inter-city train, somebody with an assisted dog cannot book a seat with a table (for the dog to sit under) which makes it very difficult as there is also no room in the train aisles.

Aeroplanes and Airports

Airports in general are reasonably good for accessibility and assistance, however the planes are not. Many wheelchair users report having their wheelchairs damaged when they have got to their destination. It has also been reported, on incoming flights, for security to strip down a wheelchair whilst doing their searching, without the ability to put it back together again, leaving passengers extremely distressed.

Susan Hill:

June 02, 2013 at 04:57 PM

I find because I use a disability scooter because I can’t walk more 1.1/2 feet before I am in pain, I am restricted from traveling on Buses, Trains, or Airoplans.

Steve Wilkinson:

June 02, 2013 at 11:48 AM

As a manual wheelchair user, I use public transport a lot. Largely, I find it fine although there is still room for improvement. In some parts of Newcastle, the kerb is raised to be level with the bus when it is lowered. For me, that is preferable to a ramp on the bus, which involves a lot of hassle. I’d like to see that a lot more.

Dr Mike Casselden:

June 01, 2013 at 05:16 PM

On buses, generally in the North-East the main problem I encounter is, first, being able to read the bus number and destination as it approaches. This is important as here we have to flag a bus by sticking a hand out and if one cannot see at a distance too well one either flags a bus “just in case” or risks losing it because one is not quick enough. That has happened to me several times. Also, second, it might not seem important but the way people queue at a bus stop or the way the bus stop and shelter is positioned is important. In London where I grew up bus stops and shelters were designed so that the head of a queue faced the oncoming bus so that people could board in sequence. Indeed, bus stops had notices “Queue this side”. In the North-East there seems to be a custom of queuing both sides so that when a bus arrives there can be a scramble with more agile and pushy folk from the alternative queue with its back to the bus, standing in front of the legitimate queue, muscling their way on. The London practice should be mandatory nationally so that older people and those with disabilities in the proper queue do not get pushed to the back of the queue, literally. This is very unfair as most of the accessible seats on the bus may well be taken early on.


May 31, 2013 at 04:41 PM

I am autistic with associated severe sensory hypersensitivities and vestibular and proprioception issues.

Trains and buses are very difficult for me to access as the noise levels of noisy chatting passengers and people playing music and loud and distorted train annoucements all cause me excruciating pain. I’ve told Southern Rail about this but they have made it clear they couldn’t care less about autistics and thing autism is just people being fussy.

The needs of autistics are not taken seriously by public transport providers and are seen as a nuisance and a joke.

I have Raynaud’s syndrome so cold hurts me and Southern Rail always have air conditioning on full blast, so it is always freezing on their trains and there is no way to get warm. I thing trains without air conditioning where you can just open a window are better.

Due to sensory hypersensitivities, I find bright colours and busy patterns painful but train and bus companies don’t care and insist on having busy patterns and garish colours. If you say anything, they make out that you are being spoiled and fussy as they can’t get it through their heads that if you are autistic, bright colours physically cause excruciating pain. Why is this such a hard concept to grasp? It’s as though they think that just because it doesn’t happen to them, it can’t happen to anyone.

Similarly I’ve complained about the overly loud, frequent and distorted announcements, but no-one cares. I know some people need announcements and I’m not saying they should be stopped, that would be ridiculous, but they should be less loud, not so distorted and not so frequent.

I find train stations horrific in terms of sensory overload and bullying and intellectual access. They are an assault on the senses and I cannot cope and often have panic attacks and seizures which lead staff to laugh at me or turn their backs on me. No-one cares.

The crowds, noise and sights are just too much. Stations need to have neutral decor, a limited number of quieter announcements and better crown management. At present it is a free for all and is horriffic if you are autistic.

Bus shelters are useless and leave you exposed to the elements and people smoke in them which is a problem as I am asthmatic, but there are no staff or CCTV to catch them and stop them.

Airports are better than train stations, although there needs to be better crowd management and there needs to be more support for autistics. At present, the only way I’ve been able to go through the airport with support is to be pushed in a wheelchair which is offensive to actual wheelchair users, but they refused to help me otherwise as they don’t help autistics.

Airports need to have better signage and also they need to tell you in advance what the procedure is at an airport because I had no idea where to go or what to do because no-one told me and I didn’t know who too ask.

There does need to be better colour contrast at airports as they tend to be all white, but colours should be kept neutral otherwise they cause pain to autistics.

Also, many bus drivers pull away from bus stops before passengers are seated which is dangerous.

Michele Henderson:

May 31, 2013 at 02:34 PM

As a wheelchair user, I have several issues. There is a problem when using buses as there is a bar from floor to ceiling which causes problems when trying to get the chair in the space provided. I think this bar is meant as a safety issue to stop the chair from falling when the bus turns a corner but surely there could be a different way of doing this which would mean you could get in and out of the area easier. Also, the space provided does vary greatly depending on the type of bus, some spaces are very small and this bar makes it almost impossible to get in. This can also draw attention to myself which makes me very uncomfortable. In the area I live we have the metro system. The main problem with this is that the carriages are not level with the platform and there is always a gap between carriage and the platform. These issues are different at each station. This stops travelling on the metro system being stress free as access to the platforms has not caused my any problems and lifts or ramps are available where appropriate.

Kay Yendall:

May 31, 2013 at 12:42 PM

Newton Abbot Community Transport Association, in various guises, has been providing accessible, affordable transport and services for our local community, supporting increased mobility, social contact and independence since 1991. Without our support many people would be prisoners in their own homes, as we pick up passengers/from locations not considered viable by commercial operators. The concessionary bus pass does not apply to passengers using Community Transport country-wide, so our passengers not only have very little transport choice, they also have to pay for the privilege!

Border Links:

May 31, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Sometimes on the buses, locally, members have experienced drivers who are not always understanding of their difficulties and are, on occasions, short with them when speaking. Maybe more training or occasional retraining would help.

On buses, locally eg in Wooler, if there is one wheelchair on the bus, the person waiting to get on the bus in a wheelchair is told to wait for the next bus. This has happened on a couple of occasions to one member and his carer.

Overall, their experiences here in Northumberland are good and they feel happy to use the buses.

On trains, when changing trains/platforms, it gets very scary for more able members who are on their own. Also, some gaps between trains and platform are far too wide for some members and this causes distress, extra time to get a ramp and this needs to be booked in advance.

Members in wheelchairs have found that going on trains is accessible, as long as the lifts are available but this is impossible on the London Underground when having to change lines. Travel has to be carefully planned in advance, which restricts easy use of transport.

In airports, most wheelchair users and their carers have a good experience with ease of access but not in all airports eg Stansted, again due to lift availability.

Self Advocacy Youth (SAY) Group at Connect Advocacy, Hampshire:

May 31, 2013 at 11:57 AM

It’s ok if you can read or have support—for bus numbers and timetables. Sometimes there is a long way to walk ie Gatwick airport gates to exit and it’s hard to get transport (if you are young and look fit and healthy). There are not enough seats at bus stations when waiting. Some bus stops are a long way from the destination—not so many on side roads. The Eclipse buses from Fareham to Gosport are good—space for chairs and room for people with disabilities to sit down. Also, these buses tell you where the next bus stop is so we know when to get off. This helps people with learning disabilities to be independent and confident. Not all tube stations in London are wheelchair accessible so some of the group don’t go to places they want to visit.

Linda Johnson:

May 31, 2013 at 10:00 AM

My local bus service (Stage Coach) is awful to travel on. The bus drivers do not communicate with you and will not tell you when you have reached your stop. The buses take at least 3 push chairs so getting on and off can be very difficult. I travel on the buses daily to and from my place of work and to be honest I dread every single journey. My Guide Dog has been knocked by push chairs which has made him a little anxious now. There is no consideration for visually impaired people with or without Guide Dogs. This really has to change. All visually impaired people have as much right to travel on buses as sighted people. Please do something to help visually impaired people feel more confident when using buses. Thank you.

Bournemouth People First (speaking up group for people with learning disabilities):

May 31, 2013 at 09:19 AM

In Boscombe (Bournemouth) we need more seating areas at bus stops. Sometimes we feel intimidated at bus stations. People sleep on the seats at bus stations and there is graffiti on the walls.

Ellen Gospel:

May 30, 2013 at 09:58 PM

I work daily with people with visual impairments and the main issues they face with bus usage are:

Identifying the bus numbers in the first place, they find it embarrassing sometimes stopping the wrong bus numbers and often getting a negative response from drivers. Talking bus stops announcing approaching bus in advance would aid with this. As would audio announcements on all buses to alert passengers of the approaching stops. I have known of buses having this feature but it been switched off what use is that?

More awareness training is needed for drivers, expecting a VI person to scan their bus pass is not appropriate and this is not just in one locality area I have worked in.

Great advances in buses have been made to enable them to be lowered to kerb levels, however this does not work if drivers are not pulling up to the kerb and leaving a gap for passengers to step over again this comes down to training and awareness.

Robert Potter:

May 30, 2013 at 06:57 PM

I am registered blind. Buses: I have to stop all buses (sometimes lorries) and ask what number they are, bus drivers are sometimes helpful and wait for me to sit down and tell me when I have reached my stop but sometimes they forget.I wish we had audio announcements like London Buses. Taxis: my wife tells me that some taxi drivers ignore me because of my guide dog but mostly they are helpful. (In terms of design London Black Cabs are best for me and my dog.)Trains: assisted travel has worked well for me on main line trains. Most local trains have no space for my guide dog and if busy I have to sit in the guards/bicycle van with the luggage and bikes and away from my family. My experience at airports is mostly good and I receive priority boarding and treatment.

Cynthia Easeman:

May 30, 2013 at 06:46 PM

I am able to access my bus as I live in a rural area and our drivers are more aware of my difficulties being registered blind and travelling with a guide dog. However a guide dog cannot tell you where you are on route and although may know the route is unable to inform you when you are at your destination. Sometimes it is difficult to find a seat where the dog can sit comfortably without being in the way of wheelchair users or pushchairs or even someone with a large suitcase.

I have used the train with a Carer as no help was available and there was difficulties with seating as could not find any disabled seats. I could try assisted travel but many of my friends have done that and no one was there to help

I would like to travel around London on the underground but find it difficult to find out how I can do that where there are stations without lifts. My dog not being trained for escalators, they are busy places and if you have no vision or restricted vision then it can be a frightening experience.

I find taxis difficult sometimes the front seats do not move backwards to make room for my guide dog and taxi drivers sometimes do not actually like dogs.

Bus stations are difficult as timetables are not accessible and how do you know where for example bus stop 5 is ? If you cannot see the sign. I would be very wary of getting on a bus where several different routes go from that stop, not being able to read the number or even flag the bus down.

It is a while since I travelled by air, mostly liking to go with a Carer and from a small airport like Norwich, where they offer priority boarding large airports who operate without this assistance can be a nightmare.


May 30, 2013 at 05:51 PM

Will the committee ask DfT why they have not announced their decision not to proceed with Gov commitments to implement the Equality Act in relation to passengers on ships and not to inform the committee of that decision in the hope, perhaps, that it won’t be noticed. . Which given that there has been no announcement, is quite likely.

George Bell:

May 30, 2013 at 12:55 PM

The 09.30 start time for pensioners bus pass has vey little or no financial gain But does cause problems for people who are not thought of as disabled but do often have problems with balance and strength. The busses between 0930 and 10.00 can case distress on packed busses which need not be Packed without this stupid arbitrary time so bus pass holders can spread the load.

Chris Dugdale:

May 30, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Poor accessibility on many bus services plus poor passenger safety procedures in terms of falls risk for elderly and disabled people paricularly Stagecoach. Arriva and Go Northern excellent custopmer safety procedures and a promise hsoul a bus be inaccessible they will provide a taxi. No Audio prompts for visually impaired on any bus services to my knowledge

Carl Jones:

May 30, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Travelling in Essex—The majority of buses are now low floor with wheelchair facilities, which is good however the klocal Highway Authority is very poor in tackling accessibility at bus stops. Some bus stops have the kerbs raised to help faciliatate level boarding, however this lack sufficient stopping restrictions. Cage lengths where they are provided are little longer than the bus length itself, thus when stationery vehicles stop on the approach or on the departure of the cage, buses cannot reach the section of raised kerb. This has now been the case for many years, in some locations it has been a waste of money increasing the kerb height, without the stopping restrictions. Also there are still a number of routes with Hail and Ride style sections, this can leave whole residential areas with no accessible locations to stop as kerbs are not raised and no restrictions are provided at all. I feel that Essex County Coucil is failing too support the less mobile residents of Essex and the bus operators who provide suitable vehicles.

Henry Sherlock:

May 30, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Being registered blind and living in the central belt is very different from when I lived in Yorkshire. Here, the bus station, if that is what they call it in Falkirk, is an absolute disgrace. There are no audible facilities, so you don’t know what stance you are at, let alone, know what time the bus is due. There are no toilet facilities. The staff congregate in one area and are very unhelpful. There is no security and the buses double and some times tripple park. the leave from the wrong stance and I have been left stranded for an hour or hour and a half until the next one comes. This leaves me and my guide dog very vulnerable. The buses don’t talk, so on routes I am not familiar with, I rely on the driver to get me off at the correct stop. This unfortunately results in being forgotten or let off at the wrong stop. The buses to rural areas are the worst ever. Some have steps that turn in an awkward position with nothing to hold on to. The ones which are supposed to drop down are never dropped down by the drivers. When asked why? the response is usually that it doesn’t work. Boarding the bus is difficult as msot of the time the bus does not stop at the correct bus stop or stop at the bus stop at all. If it does it is difficult to get your bus pass on the scanner. Most of the time, the driver sits and does not offer help. This is hard as the driver cabin is usual separated by a perspex panel. It’s a bit like Krypton factor meets It’s a knock out. Although most drivers wait until I find a seat, not all do. It is also difficult to find a seat which can safely seat me and my guide dog. because there is only one bus an hour, they are usually full. Which means going to the back or standing. The front seats, which could accommodate me and my guide are usually full of prams, shopping or able bodied people. On many occasions I have been asked to move from the front seat to accommodate someone with a pram. I have no real objection to this except when the pram is full of shopping and the child is running up and down the bus.

Waiting on a bus at a bus stop can be frustrating. Assistance is always required because most of the time, too many buses come along at the same time and in order to alight you have to walk a fair distance to board the bus. If no one is there to provide sighted assistance then you are sure to miss your hourly bus home.

The bus station in Falkirk is an absolute disgrace as it offers no disability support what so ever and in my opinion fails to meet the Equality Act 2010. And it is completely open to the elements, so when I miss my bus becasue it has double parked or left from another stance, I have to stand with my dog in a cold, wet windy and unsafe environment.

Although there is a support system on trains, you have to give at least 24hrs notice before you travel. This leaves me, who needs to use trains at short notice, with no actual support. On these occasions I take assistive support with me. I find it hard getting on and off trains, in fact I panic as I have, on several occasions, slipped down the gap, scraping my shin. On one occasion, my guide dog almost went down the gap. So now, I don’t travel anywhere on my own by train.

On most trains it is difficult as you have to find and push buttons to get on and off and in some to get through to another carriage. This is difficult as it takes time to find the button. Once I missed my stop because I didnt find the button quickly enough and had to get off at the next station and go back. Very frustrating.

Traveling by aeroplane is probably the best believe it or not. As a disabled person you get called on the flight first. If you book in advance your dog can sit beside you. In addition to this, the emergency evacuation procedure was explained on a one to one and support was available throughout the journey. Now that is what all transport operators should be doing. Becoming passenger focussed

Cynthia Williamson:

May 30, 2013 at 09:04 AM

I have several friends and clients whose ability to travel is limited by the problems of accessability to buses, trains, taxis etc and feel all buildings, equipment and transport should be improved to give people equal opportunities to travel.

Martin McGarritt:

May 29, 2013 at 09:18 PM

buses—timetables inaccessable. Buse stop in my town centre has audiable call buttons which will tell you what bus is due next at the stand. However, there is no audibile technology to advise which stand is the one your looking for. LED notice boards cant be viewed as they are too small and to high up. Buses don’t announce their arrival automatically. Buses have variable height adjustable platforms. Buses usually are too far away from the stop which leaves a gap which you have step down off the pavement and on to the platform. The destination information is not clear or audable announcements for each stop along the route. Bus drivers are too impatient to stop and wait for the traveller to get from their seat to the door or vice versa before taking off again. Trains. Stations make announcements re arrival of next train. trains have audible announcements. major stations usually announce the platform only 5 minutes before the train is due to depart. not giving enough time for the person to get to the platform on time. There are no help consoles around to provide assistance. Smaller stations have help buttons for enquires which is helpful. Airports again no audible point to advise of where to check in or gate numbers

Paul Smith:

May 29, 2013 at 09:05 PM

No way of hailing a bus at a bus stop on my own as I cannot see the bus coming.

At bus stations I am unable to identify a particular stand as there is no sighted assistance available for blind passengers.

Often there is no room for me and my Guide Dog on a bus as the disabled spaces are filled with pushchairs and bus drivers will not ask them to move or fold up.

On the Newcastle Metro if we require assistance we have to ring and book in advance giving at least 24hrs notice which isn’t always convenient as it takes away spontaneity of deciding to go somewhere. I do not use the Metro anymore as I was often unable to exit from the station I alighted from as the lifts were out of order and my Guide Dog cannot use the escalators.

Access in Dudley:

May 29, 2013 at 05:20 PM

Issues that our members have encountered with access are:

1.Buses do not get close enough to the kerb and the height of kerbs are often an issue.

2.Not enough wheelchair spaces on the buses and these get filled up with people and prams.

3.Sometimes there is a not quick enough response when using assisted travel on trains to board the train without rushing.

4.Assistance is not always in place to help visually impaired people when changing trains.

sylvia smithsays:

May 29, 2013 at 02:49 PM

I have to use buses daily, sometimes going to unfamilar routes, i need to use 2 buses each way to go to the supermarket, i have a guide dog and often my son is with me, he is also blind, talking buses are so much better i have freedom to go out alone when i am at my daughters as the buses are av buses, this means the driver doesnt have to remember to let me know i have reached my destination, some drivers do forget and i dont blame them, they have to take care driving and watch the passengers etc

I stuggle to board buses and struggle again when alighting, this mainly is due to the driver not lowering the floor when there is no raised pavement, i feel all bus stops should be with raised pavements, if the government and bus companiezs paid towards this then bus travel gets lots easier,

Peter Towerssays:

May 29, 2013 at 02:44 PM

Arriva North East uses coaches on some routes which have very steep and deep steps.

Margaret Hutchison:

May 29, 2013 at 02:33 PM

As a registered blind person I mainly have to travel either by taxi or a combination of walking then onwards by train as I can obtain practical & physical assistance before ( pre booking disabled assistance) ,during & at the end of my journey or even onward journey transfers.

Travelling by Bus is mainly inaccessible to myself as I’m unable to either read the Bus numbers or even in fact see the actual bus before it approaches the bus stop. On many occassions I have stood with my guide dog at a bus stop ( with my hand out in expectation) only to have the bus run past without stopping. I can be there for quite a long time. As a V.I.P. you are extremely vulnerable in this position.

(Perhaps better training by Bus companies for their bus drivers would eradicate this particular problem).

I therefore need sighted assistance to make a journey by bus to ensure I both get on the bus safely & the correct one. Sufficient time is also not given to allow me to find a seat in safety for both myself & my dog before it moves away from the bus stop.

It would assist greatly if there were audio announcements on the bus ( like the trains/underground) to give assurance as to actually where you were in the journey & allow you to get off at the correct stop so you can orientate yourself back safely on the route home. It would give so much more assurance, confidence & independence to V.I.P.s like myself.

I have been dropped off at the wrong stop before & it’s a very frightening & distressing experience for anyone who is visually impaired being left in unfamiliar surroundings & unable to see where to go.. ( My guide dog can only take me on routes which are familiar to us both)

Having previously queried my localScottish Bus Operator ref this via my M.P. the automatic response is that this would be “too expensive.”

Perhaps an alternative & cheaper option would be to return to the old “ bus conductors” to assist passengers before & during journeys?)

Nicholas Alexander:

May 29, 2013 at 02:23 PM

My wife is registered blind and has a guide dog ,i am her husband and sighted carer.We live in Scotland near Edinburgh.In Fact we live in a village 13 miles away .We don’t have a car so we have to use buses,on a whole we manage ok .Recently my wife had a knee replacement so i have had to push her in a wheelchair.This has made Public Transport interesting for us,what with a wheelchair and a guide dog.On buses there is no space for guide dogs to lay down so he sticks out into the gang way.All Lothian buses have electric ramps which on the main do work .But if we can get the bus nearer to the kurb we can get on and off.First buses only have a fold down ramp which they are happy to do.We have had some drivers drive off when we have waved to get on and not quite at a bus stop,some drivers will wait if they spot you trying to cross the road and wave at them but some don’t.

Each bus has a wheelchair priority space so buggers and prams have to be folded or asked to leave the bus which makes us very popular.We do feel that there should be two wheelchair bays not just one.There should also be more brail buttons on the bus.I think that there should be announcements on the buses this would help my wife if on her own and other blind passengers.This would help them to know where they are when it’s their stop and when it’s safe to get on and off.Of course there are blind passengers who use canes and don’t have guide dogs,which makes it even more difficult to get on and off find where ther’s a seat etc.

We always askthe driver where to get off if we don’t know the area and they always shout when it’s our stop and tend to be helpful,but this is usualy because i explain our heeds and ask.When my wife travels on her own the drivers have sometimes not told her it’s her stop.Sometimes she has had to get of two or three stops past her own.She is then expected to find her stop on her own which can be a nightmare.The drivers on the whole do wait for her to sit down but with a wheelchair they don’t often moving off while i’m sorting the bags on the back of the chair and without me putting the brakes on .Which is also dangerous as you can imagine.

We are waiting for the trams to start in Edinburgh but we viewed a carriage at the Ocean Terminal a few years back and it seemed blind travelor friendly.They told us they had consulted the RNIB.Trains we have used and apart from huge steps to step of or dangerous wide gaps at the station they seem ok .Not enough wheelchair spaces though but the announcement of stops is very good.

On a leaving note some bus drivers either drive to fast and swing into turning’s or bends and this does make a wheelchair .Move out of the alloted bay even with brakes on maybe there should be fastenings on the floor or runners to clamp a chair in .


May 29, 2013 at 02:20 PM

again behavioural difficulties are not allowed for at all—my chap would not have the patience to wait for a bus unless the stop had a coffee shop or something next to it, also when my chap needs to leave a vehicle he needs to leave—if bus drivers dont pull over instantly he would become aggressive to other passengers, also having no control over who gets on does not help for example could get as far as getting on a quiet bus—if a large group of noisy/drunks get on my resident would again cause physically harm—some people just need mobility cars and no matter how vindictive the tories are towards the ill and disabled expecting the public transport to replace mobility cars at retirement age is wrong and those we care for suffer

Charles Nicol:

May 29, 2013 at 02:16 PM

First Bus have been modernising their vehicles in recent times and, as a result, physical access has improved for disabled people. This being said, modern buses have large spaces allocated, at the front of the vehicle, for prams and wheelchairs. This means that the provision of actual seating begins nearer the middle of the bus, rather than at the front. As people, entering and alighting from the buses, do so at the front, this setup creates a hazard for blind people, including guide dog owners. It is very difficult to get to a seat, when the bus is moving off prematurely (please see below sections) and it is extremely difficult to get back to the front of the moving bus, when it is approaching a desired stop.

here in Scotland, blind people have Travel Cards, for use on buses and trains. The issue on buses is that the card needs to be scanned and I’m sure that nobody thought of this, from the perspective of a blind person, when the system was implemented. Now we have First Bus drivers, sitting behind protective glass, requiring a blind person to manually find the scanning machine, take their card and place it, the right way around, on the scanner. When this system was brought in, I had to ask drivers to help with the process and many point blank refused. Several complaints were raised with First Bus, but the situation is still, effectively, the same. This situation can be very humiliating to disabled passengers.


May 29, 2013 at 02:16 PM

The chap i am carer foris unable to use public transport for behavioural reasons—he used to live in a fantastic NHS unit where he could go out whenever in the people carrier but since being transferred into private care he is not allowed a mobility car as he is passed retirement age and spends well over 50% of his weekly budget on Taxis—which limits and really restricts how long he can access the community—he is now socially isolated—surely anyone who needs a mobility car when they are younger should still be allowed it passed retirement age—it is a flaw in the rules

Julia Buckingham:

May 29, 2013 at 02:08 PM

Most problems seem to be caused by driver error—for example parking too far from the curb,so the door is to close to the edge of the bus shelter, not asking able bodied people to move up the bus, driving right past if he sees a wheelchair. Or 2nd bus goes past without stopping, even though the first one may have no space for wheelchairs

Geoff Smart:

May 29, 2013 at 01:28 PM

I am a partially sighted Guide Dog Owner who works full time. I use public transport everyday to get to and from work and to visit friends and family. I have found accessibility to be very hit and miss.


I use buses almost everyday and have found bus drivers in my local area to be very friendly and helpful. I think that there should be more space made available at the front of the bus for wheelchair users and Guide Dog Owner’s. On a number of occassions I have had to stand with my dog or sit in the wheelchair space. I worry about taking up the wheelchair space as I am taking it away from someone who might need it more than I do. If I am travelling to a new area on a bus I feel nervous as I am unsure when to get off. I think that AV announcements would be very helpful. I also find stopping buses very diffiuclt. I have enough vision to be able to see a bus when it is approaching me but am unable to read the number. I find myself relying on the general public to help me. I very much appreciate people’s help, but there have been occassions where I have been stood by myself at the bus stop and have had difficulty stopping the correct bus.


I find trains and stations to be very hit and miss for accessibility. As a student I travelled by train a lot. I still use them on a fairly regular basis to attend meetings and to visit friends. I have found that most stations are easy to navigate around and I am confident enough to ask members of the public for help if I need it. Sometimes I have trouble getting on and off the train due to the size of the gap between the platform and the train. My Guide Dog almost fell between the gap on one occassion. It can slo be a struggle to get onto the train with luggage and a dog, and I do not think there is enough room for a Guide Dog in standard class accomadation. I often pay the extra to sit in first class due to the extra room. I have often noticed that passsengers have stored luggage in the wheelchair space. There should be more space on the train made available for luggage.

Carolyn Hunt:

May 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM

I have moved from North Staffordshire to London and accessibility is much improved in London. My only concern is that I need to travel before the transport gets crowded or I am unable to get a seat. I am able to ask that I have a priority seat but it is very upsetting when I am challenged as to why I need one and/or sworn at.

Sarah Howard:

May 29, 2013 at 12:30 PM

There can be huge inconsistencies, eg one bus and bus stop accessible and another not also with airports, you may be able to state access needs with English airport to find this is not translated or carried out by foreign airport. Also, often separated from your travelling group. There is not always enough flexibility around part time mobility scooter users, sometimes I’ve been allowed to have scooter with me until flight and other times I’ve been pushed around airport by staff member in a wheelchair which I found very disempowering.

Mrs P M Derbyshire:

May 29, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Buses in our immediate area or quite good due to lobbying of our local groups. Taxi’s are ok on the whole. Train Stations and Airports are a nightmare for all disabled travellers but especially for Sight Impaired people. Even though we ask for assistance the help we get is not consistant and we have been stranded on a number of occasions and had no option but to ask for help from the general public, which is not always possible when they have connections to make.


May 29, 2013 at 10:31 AM

I am a blind person with a guide dog. I have recently stopped using buses. I have had problems both getting on and off buses where the driver has failed to stop at the kirb. I have a biggish guide dog. It is always a problem where to sit because of the lack of room for him. If the area where people with pushchairs is full, it would mean my guide dog would hacve to lie in the isle. This is not ideal. He could get stood on and also is a trip hazzard.

The drivers often are in a hurry and pull off quick before anyone has the chance to sit down. I have also an illness as well as being blind which at times effects my balance and fatigue plays a big part. The last thing I need is an accident.

I have asked drivers to let me know where to get off. They rarely do. This is dangerous to a totally blind person. If the driver does not let a blind person know where to get off, it means they will miss their stop and could end up somewhere thats not familiar. This can be dangerous, stressful and frightening.

For these reasons I have stopped using buses.

We need recorded messages to let us know the bus stops; drivers with more awareness training and more room for guidedogs to make it more accessable for blind people.

Sophie Aston:

May 29, 2013 at 09:40 AM

I am visually impaired and use a guide dog. I would say that i can access most infrastructures as i can use stairs or lift. I can also often pick up on bus shelters as there is an echo. However, it is difficult to pick up on a bus stop which is just a post or an area rather than with a actual physical shelter.

Nikki Watson:

May 29, 2013 at 09:11 AM

I am totally blind and a guide dog Owner, I regularly travel by bus, train and taxi, and occasionally by air. I will give my comments for each mode of transport in that order.

Bus Accessibility

The first problem I have is recognising that a bus is approaching the stop, or finding the correct stop for the bus in busy town centre areas where there may be a multitude of stops on one long street. I have no sight and so have to rely on the fact that something sounds like a bus so I can flag it down, in this area all stops are request stops. I also have to rely on the fact that the driverhas seen me as I can’t see him, or make eye contact with him. Unfortunatley, although the general public are on the whole well meaning they are not reliable when asked to tell you if your bus is coming. In the past I have been put on the wrong bus and also left on my own at a stopby people who have ommitted to tell me that their bus has arrived and they are leaving. Often at busy stops, or at times of heavy traffic the bus driver is unable to pull up to the kerb, or even stops at a different stop and I have no way of knowing this when it happens.

The buses themselves in this area are usually fairly modern and there is plenty of room, and room for my dog, except of course atschool run time! Many of the buses have adjustable front steps which the driver can line up with thekerb at stops, as long as he can and does park at the kerbside at the bustop. Onne problem I have though is not all buses are laid out in the same way, so I can’t always tell where the seats are or if they are front facing, side facing, fixed or pull down. Occasionally on my main route, which is rural, an older bus, double decker or even coach is put on to replace a bus that has broken down and then I can have real roblems as these are not dog friendly at all. I have also recently been to a different area where the buses had screens across the drivers cab and this was very confusing—I also couldn’t hear the driver very well when he was talking to me on these buses. Perhaps the most difficult accessibility issue have with bus travel is that living in a rural community, some places have either no bus service at all, or a very limited bus service only runs once a week or so. This means I am trapped through no fault of my own.

Train Accessibility

On the whole I have very few problems with train travel; however, I always plan my journey’s well in advance nd always have booked assistance. I have had some problems in the past where my assistance has not turned up, or has collected me, but then forgotten about me so I have missed my train. This usually happens when I have to change trains and always at busy stations like Bristol Templemeades or Birmingham Newstreet. I believe this is caused by there not being enough people to assist everyone who needs it. Once man, or woman, cannot be everywhere at once. It should be possible when booking assistance to book extra sets at no extra cost when travelling with an assistance dog. However, this does not always work and I have spent many long journeys with my guide Dog sitting in the passageway and causing problems to other traverllers as well as train staff because there hasn’t been consideration given to his needs when my seats were booked.

Also sometimes, and again this happens at busier stations, even though I might have seats reserved, I am not always put in them and am “dumped” at the first empty, unreserved space. Another problem I have is goint to the toilet when travelling by train. I nver know where they are, often don’t know where the buttons are to lock, unlock, and open doors and have got “trapped” on the wrong side of adoor because i couldn’t find the button to let me back through into the next carriage. I have spend some very long and uncomfortable journeys bursting for a wee, but to scared to use the toilet on the train! This is also a problem for assistance dog owners. There is no provision for the spending of assistance dogs at railway stations.

Taxi Accessibility

I have had very few problems with Taxi travel. If I have had any issues they have been because of a language barrier (in this area most taxi drivers are Eastern European) rather than a lack of willingness to be helpful. I do worry however, that a lot of the vehicles that are used as taxis do not have dog guards, or have front passenger airbags that are perminantly switched on. This means that is not safe to travel my Guide Dog in the accepted manners.

Air Travel Accessibility

I have only ever flown with my Guide Dog once. However, I have flown to Europe with sighted assistance frequently. It has to be said that Airpoorts are not at all accessible, are very scarey and very confusing to somebody with no sight. We used to book assistance with our flights, but learned very quickly that it was easier, less frightening and on the whole a much more pleasant experience not too! Getting through the barriers is a real challenge

Tony Taylor:

May 29, 2013 at 08:43 AM

I use public transport(Buses) on a daily basis and being V.I makks it a problem.The buses Northamptonshire area have no way of letting you know when your stop is coming up.If you use the same route on a regular basis you can get by counting the stops. But if you have never used the route before the bus driver does’nt all ways let you know when your stop is coming up this has happend to me in the past.the last time i ended up four stops past where i wanted before the driver says “sorry missed your stop do you want to get of at the next stop”.

Joanne M L Welbon:

May 28, 2013 at 10:59 PM

As a guide dog owner I have the luxury or Zeus (guide dog) being able to locate bus stops, however unless shown first I would not know where they were or which was the correct one, audible stops announcing bus numbers and times would help.

Mark White:

May 28, 2013 at 10:20 PM

Living in London, accessibility is good overall, both in terms on using transport and the automatic announcements about which stop is upcoming on both trains and buses. There is an ongoing issue with the limited amount of space for service dog users on buses as this is often blocked by open pushchairs and drivers usually don’t think to tell people to fold them.

Miss Deborah Newton:

May 28, 2013 at 09:27 PM

I have sight problems and use public transport with my guide dog. I am nervous about travelling to different place by bus because I worry I will miss my stop. Sometimes the driver will tell me my stop is coming up but sometimes they either forget or just don’t bother telling you. Having voice messages telling you the stops would be very good and I know other people with sight problems would feel better about using public transport. I have missed my stop lots of times and have ended up having to get off further on after i’ve realised i’ve missed my stop. This ia worrying in itself. Please introduce these things to transport.

sylvia smith:

May 29, 2013 at 02:49 PM

I have to use buses daily, sometimes going to unfamilar routes, i need to use 2 buses each way to go to the supermarket, i have a guide dog and often my son is with me, he is also blind, talking buses are so much better i have freedom to go out alone when i am at my daughters as the buses are av buses, this means the driver doesnt have to remember to let me know i have reached my destination, some drivers do forget and i dont blame them, they have to take care driving and watch the passengers etc

Peter Towers:

May 29, 2013 at 02:44 PM

Arriva North East uses coaches on some routes which have very steep and deep steps.

Margaret Hutchison:

May 29, 2013 at 02:33 PM

As a registered blind person I mainly have to travel either by taxi or a combination of walking then onwards by train as I can obtain practical & physical assistance before ( pre booking disabled assistance) ,during & at the end of my journey or even onward journey transfers.

Travelling by Bus is mainly inaccessible to myself as I’m unable to either read the Bus numbers or even in fact see the actual bus before it approaches the bus stop. On many occassions I have stood with my guide dog at a bus stop ( with my hand out in expectation) only to have the bus run past without stopping. I can be there for quite a long time. As a V.I.P. you are extremely vulnerable in this position.

(Perhaps better training by Bus companies for their bus drivers would eradicate this particular problem).

I therefore need sighted assistance to make a journey by bus to ensure I both get on the bus safely & the correct one. Sufficient time is also not given to allow me to find a seat in safety for both myself & my dog before it moves away from the bus stop.

It would assist greatly if there were audio announcements on the bus ( like the trains/underground) to give assurance as to actually where you were in the journey & allow you to get off at the correct stop so you can orientate yourself back safely on the route home. It would give so much more assurance, confidence & independence to V.I.P.s like myself.

I have been dropped off at the wrong stop before & it’s a very frightening & distressing experience for anyone who is visually impaired being left in unfamiliar surroundings & unable to see where to go.. ( My guide dog can only take me on routes which are familiar to us both)

Having previously queried my localScottish Bus Operator ref this via my M.P. the automatic response is that this would be “too expensive.”

Perhaps an alternative & cheaper option would be to return to the old “bus conductors” to assist passengers before & during journeys?)

Nicholas Alexander:

May 29, 2013 at 02:23 PM

My wife is registered blind and has a guide dog ,i am her husband and sighted carer.We live in Scotland near Edinburgh.In Fact we live in a village 13 miles away .We don’t have a car so we have to use buses,on a whole we manage ok .Recently my wife had a knee replacement so i have had to push her in a wheelchair.This has made Public Transport interesting for us,what with a wheelchair and a guide dog.On buses there is no space for guide dogs to lay down so he sticks out into the gang way.All Lothian buses have electric ramps which on the main do work .But if we can get the bus nearer to the kurb we can get on and off.First buses only have a fold down ramp which they are happy to do.We have had some drivers drive off when we have waved to get on and not quite at a bus stop,some drivers will wait if they spot you trying to cross the road and wave at them but some don’t.

Each bus has a wheelchair priority space so buggers and prams have to be folded or asked to leave the bus which makes us very popular.We do feel that there should be two wheelchair bays not just one.There should also be more brail buttons on the bus.I think that there should be announcements on the buses this would help my wife if on her own and other blind passengers.This would help them to know where they are when it’s their stop and when it’s safe to get on and off.Of course there are blind passengers who use canes and don’t have guide dogs,which makes it even more difficult to get on and off find where ther’s a seat etc.

We always askthe driver where to get off if we don’t know the area and they always shout when it’s our stop and tend to be helpful,but this is usualy because i explain our heeds and ask.When my wife travels on her own the drivers have sometimes not told her it’s her stop.Sometimes she has had to get of two or three stops past her own.She is then expected to find her stop on her own which can be a nightmare.The drivers on the whole do wait for her to sit down but with a wheelchair they don’t often moving off while i’m sorting the bags on the back of the chair and without me putting the brakes on .Which is also dangerous as you can imagine.

We are waiting for the trams to start in Edinburgh but we viewed a carriage at the Ocean Terminal a few years back and it seemed blind travelor friendly.They told us they had consulted the RNIB.Trains we have used and apart from huge steps to step of or dangerous wide gaps at the station they seem ok .Not enough wheelchair spaces though but the announcement of stops is very good.

On a leaving note some bus drivers either drive to fast and swing into turning’s or bends and this does make a wheelchair .Move out of the alloted bay even with brakes on maybe there should be fastenings on the floor or runners to clamp a chair in .


May 29, 2013 at 02:21 PM

again behavioural difficulties are not allowed for at all—my chap would not have the patience to wait for a bus unless the stop had a coffee shop or something next to it, also when my chap needs to leave a vehicle he needs to leave—if bus drivers dont pull over instantly he would become aggressive to other passengers, also having no control over who gets on does not help for example could get as far as getting on a quiet bus—if a large group of noisy/drunks get on my resident would again cause physically harm—some people just need mobility cars and no matter how vindictive the tories are towards the ill and disabled expecting the public transport to replace mobility cars at retirement age is wrong and those we care for suffer


May 29, 2013 at 02:20 PM

again behavioural difficulties are not allowed for at all—my chap would not have the patience to wait for a bus unless the stop had a coffee shop or something next to it, also when my chap needs to leave a vehicle he needs to leave—if bus drivers dont pull over instantly he would become aggressive to other passengers, also having no control over who gets on does not help for example could get as far as getting on a quiet bus—if a large group of noisy/drunks get on my resident would again cause physically harm—some people just need mobility cars and no matter how vindictive the tories are towards the ill and disabled expecting the public transport to replace mobility cars at retirement age is wrong and those we care for suffer

Charles Nicol:

May 29, 2013 at 02:16 PM

First Bus have been modernising their vehicles in recent times and, as a result, physical access has improved for disabled people. This being said, modern buses have large spaces allocated, at the front of the vehicle, for prams and wheelchairs. This means that the provision of actual seating begins nearer the middle of the bus, rather than at the front. As people, entering and alighting from the buses, do so at the front, this setup creates a hazard for blind people, including guide dog owners. It is very difficult to get to a seat, when the bus is moving off prematurely (please see below sections) and it is extremely difficult to get back to the front of the moving bus, when it is approaching a desired stop.

here in Scotland, blind people have Travel Cards, for use on buses and trains. The issue on buses is that the card needs to be scanned and I’m sure that nobody thought of this, from the perspective of a blind person, when the system was implemented. Now we have First Bus drivers, sitting behind protective glass, requiring a blind person to manually find the scanning machine, take their card and place it, the right way around, on the scanner. When this system was brought in, I had to ask drivers to help with the process and many point blank refused. Several complaints were raised with First Bus, but the situation is still, effectively, the same. This situation can be very humiliating to disabled passengers.


May 29, 2013 at 02:16 PM

The chap i am carer foris unable to use public transport for behavioural reasons—he used to live in a fantastic NHS unit where he could go out whenever in the people carrier but since being transferred into private care he is not allowed a mobility car as he is passed retirement age and spends well over 50% of his weekly budget on Taxis—which limits and really restricts how long he can access the community—he is now socially isolated—surely anyone who needs a mobility car when they are younger should still be allowed it passed retirement age—it is a flaw in the rules

Julia Buckingham:

May 29, 2013 at 02:08 PM

Most problems seem to be caused by driver error—for example parking too far from the curb,so the door is to close to the edge of the bus shelter, not asking able bodied people to move up the bus, driving right past if he sees a wheelchair. Or 2nd bus goes past without stopping, even though the first one may have no space for wheelchairs

Geoff Smart:

May 29, 2013 at 01:28 PM

I am a partially sighted Guide Dog Owner who works full time. I use public transport everyday to get to and from work and to visit friends and family. I have found accessibility to be very hit and miss.


I use buses almost everyday and have found bus drivers in my local area to be very friendly and helpful. I think that there should be more space made available at the front of the bus for wheelchair users and Guide Dog Owner’s. On a number of occassions I have had to stand with my dog or sit in the wheelchair space. I worry about taking up the wheelchair space as I am taking it away from someone who might need it more than I do. If I am travelling to a new area on a bus I feel nervous as I am unsure when to get off. I think that AV announcements would be very helpful. I also find stopping buses very diffiuclt. I have enough vision to be able to see a bus when it is approaching me but am unable to read the number. I find myself relying on the general public to help me. I very much appreciate people’s help, but there have been occassions where I have been stood by myself at the bus stop and have had difficulty stopping the correct bus.


I find trains and stations to be very hit and miss for accessibility. As a student I travelled by train a lot. I still use them on a fairly regular basis to attend meetings and to visit friends. I have found that most stations are easy to navigate around and I am confident enough to ask members of the public for help if I need it. Sometimes I have trouble getting on and off the train due to the size of the gap between the platform and the train. My Guide Dog almost fell between the gap on one occassion. It can slo be a struggle to get onto the train with luggage and a dog, and I do not think there is enough room for a Guide Dog in standard class accomadation. I often pay the extra to sit in first class due to the extra room. I have often noticed that passsengers have stored luggage in the wheelchair space. There should be more space on the train made available for luggage.

Paul Meredith:

May 28, 2013 at 09:02 PM

I am partially sighted and have a Guim work each Day. I do use the Bus here in Stafford. I think i would be of great here if we where told the Bus Stop that the Bus was coming to. This would mean that i would no t have to ask other people on the Bus where we are and when i need to push the buzzer.

heather guy:

May 28, 2013 at 05:26 PM

Buses are my biggest bug bearer. I hate using them. At the bust stop I need to stop everybody because I can,t see which ones my bus,then you get angry dragonflies they’ve been stopped. Then u can’t get dog in seats properly because there is not enough room then often people stand on dogs toes or tail. The wider seats at front are more for pushchair that could probably be put down. Then the next problem is the stop you want to get off u dont know when you are there and the drivers forget to tell you. It is one whole nightmare from beginning to end.

Nadine Jackson:

May 28, 2013 at 05:24 PM

I am visually impaired and use public transport all the time to lead as independant a life as i can.

I travel by train and underground faiy often and for the most part it is a pretty good experience. Most train stations have good audio announcements and the stations, platforms etc have bumpy strips so you can tell when you are near the edge.

Buses i find can be a lot more random. Often bus stops are bard to find especially if they are just a sign on a pole which can be put anywhere on tbe pavement. Getting a bus to stop is hard when you cant see its coming & i’ve missed a lot this way. Getting on is usually ok though getting peod with buggies to let you sit in a disabled seat with a guide dog can have mixed results. Then the challenge of knowing where to get off. Anywhere except London this is a guessing game. London buses are so much better as they tell you which bus you are on, where its going & which stop is next via audio announcements. This makes life a lot less stressful and i am more confident travelling in them. I usually use the internet to get bus & train information in an accessible way which works for me. Before this was a available it was impossible without asking someone. There is also real time information available in london via a txt service e & some apps for iphone which can vary around the country. I think that if more places had a bus system like london a lot more visually impaired people would be able to travel independently with confidence.

John Alistair Lyle:

May 28, 2013 at 04:54 PM

Transport infrastructure; Bus stations are a bit hit or miss and it depends on the station. I have found it is often best to ask for assistance from staff, as more often than not there are uneven surfaces and broken paving which will lead to a fall for me.

Train stations are really good with me never having to search out staff. As soon as I enter a station a staff member will approach me and ask my destination, take me to the platform, if there is a wait before my train they will get me seated promising to return to see me safely on board. This they have always done, they find the guard who finds me a seat and once I am seated they will ask me for my destination before going back to their duties. at the destination they see me of the train and hand me of to station staff.

Airports can be a mixed bag, access is good but airport assistance can be an issue, but when airport assistance has failed to turn up my carrier (B.A.) have stepped in. The facilities provided by airport assistance is fairly poor at their gathering points. I much prefer to be able to use the facilities made available by my carrier, as British Airways have always upgraded me to business class on domestic flights. Much better than the broom cupboard that is airport assistance gathering point (I am referring to Heathrow terminal 5). A major issue is facilities for dogs, especially in terminal 5 as it has only just be put into use, surely some sort of metal cage with sand in it, that can only be accessed from airside could be manufactured, made so that it could be taken away and emptied by forklift there are afterall a lot of security dogs in the airports. This would allow Guide Dogs to relieve themselves without have to go back through security. I have been told to take my dog into the disabled toilets and let my dog do what it needs there, then notify airport assistance so that they can get a cleaner!!


May 28, 2013 at 04:51 PM

There is not enough time to get on and off the train if you have mobility problems.

If you are travelling with luggage, it can be very difficult to lift the luggage into the luggage compartments on trains.

All train stations should have lifts—Earley train station has stairs across the track and there is no other way of accessing the platform other than going over the stairway. There is only one part-time member of staff so it is not always possible to ask for help.

At Wokingham train station, there are bridges across the tracks but for people who can’t use stairs, they would need to cross over the road which goes over the tracks. This would involve waiting for the barrier to go up (and possibly missing your train) and also having to negotiate heavy traffic on what is a very busy junction. Some of our members are unable to travel certain journeys around Wokingham as they are unable to cross safely at this junction.

This is not a physical accessibility issue as such but it does not fit into any other category. Our local authority does not allow people with disabilities to use their concessionary bus pass before 9am Monday—Friday. This restricts people’s access to employment and educational opportunities and is another barrier to people with disabilities having a full and active part in their society.

steve ward:

May 28, 2013 at 04:39 PM

often bus drivers do not see me as i can not see the bus coming .not all the bus stopps have the automatic reader to say what bus is coming and when due.often they have problems with my pass as i do not know what way to show it

John Alistair Lyle:

May 28, 2013 at 04:24 PM

Taxis I rarely use (on benefits) but when I have they have been poor with me having to squeeze my dog in at my feet in the front foot well.

Buses are getting more accessible with the introduction of more modern bus stock. One problem area is the priority seating area, as more often than not it is occupied by mothers with pushchairs who will not vacate and bus drivers for the most part will not enforce this issue. Drivers on the whole are not interested in ensuring I get off at the correct stop, with many refusing to let me know when my stop is approaching.

Trains are wonderful with plenty of room for the dog and the staff always ensure that both the dog and I are safely seated, and they are always there to ensure I get off at the correct stop.

Andrew Johnson:

May 28, 2013 at 03:54 PM

As a vision impaired person if your standing at a bus stop that is a request stop then you have no chance in stopping a bus because before you get the chance to see what bus is coming its already drove past the stop.

J M Stuart Powell:

May 28, 2013 at 03:24 PM

Physical accessibility had certainly improved over the last few years however suitable accommodation for disabled passengers is limited. I am a guide dog user and rely on the space provided for wheelchairs as other seating has very limited space for my dog.

Unfortunately members of the public tend to ignore signage and are more than happy to occupy these areas. This it particularly bad on trains and public service busses. Busses are particularly bad as the space provided for wheelchairs is also used for prams and buggies.

Intercity buss services like those provided by CityLink and National Express use motor coaches and these are woefully lacking with regard to accessibility.

Marilyn Spicer:

May 28, 2013 at 03:20 PM

I use a Powered chair. Access to, and inside buses could be improved. The fold down ramp is very steep and I find ok to get on the bus, but very scary to have to go down it to get off. Perhaps bus stops are not high enough? Once inside the bus, there is very little room to manoeuvre.

George Drysdale:

May 28, 2013 at 03:15 PM

If the bus is able to pull in to the kerb then getting on and off is straight forward enough unless there are a lot of people trying to get on when you are trying to exit. Since buses stopped having a rear exit door it can very often become a struggle to get off as nobody wishees to lose their place in the queue by making a space for you to get off. When onboard there is little to no tactile guidance for the visually impaired to let them know if they are coming to the seating area or approaching the stair well area. This could be achieved by slightly raised strips on the floor, as an example one has the tiles at crossings wheich give directional information as well as raising awareness. However, if the bus cannot pull into the kerb then one can be left doing an impression of Marcel Marso along the side of the bus trying to find the doors.


May 28, 2013 at 02:26 PM

Since moving to Devon from London I have used the following modes of public transport.


Found accessible and even though some do not have the fitted ramp, many carry the portable ramps, which the drivers use. However the problem I have is trying to access my nearest bus stop, I live less than yards from my closest bus stop, however getting to it is a challenge in itself, I have to negotiate 2 steep slopes. The previous bus company that managed our local bus service, which passes and stops through our estate I was able to use, however since this was taken over by another company who have changed the route, which means I am no longer able to access my local bus. So I often have to pre book a wheelchair accessible taxis, which costs me over £3 each way, to collect me from my home to taken me down to the Quay, so that I can use the bus.


Both Torridge & North Devon Council use different types of wheelchair accessible taxis. North Devon has wheelchair accessible taxis which have rear access entry which allows the passenger to travel in their wheelchair facing the right way, in Torridge this is different in that the wheelchair accessible taxis you are loaded from the side, which means the ramp(s), are extended so that they either rest on the pavement or straight onto the road which means that this is neither safe for the passenger or driver. The passenger if travelling in their, wheelchair have to travel with their back to the driver. If using crutches or a walker, this type of vehicle would be not be appropriate. The type of vehicle, which is practical, is the Volkswagen Caddy Maxi

In Exeter, probably because this is a City, wheelchair accessible taxis are readily available.

However they needs to be an investigate into fares, as some taxis charge more if you are using a wheelchair accessible taxis, I was told by a taxi driver this is because they have to get the ramp out, folder the back seats and a Taxi company even admitted that they charge disabled people more using these types of vehicles. However this is not the case, when I use the bus or trains, ie in that both these have ramps which they provide to assist passengers who have motability issues.


I use the trains on a regularly basis and find that by booking assisted travel, I do not have to worry about getting on and off the train. However the only trains that provided facilities that can be used by wheelchair users are the mainline trains going to Paddington, Bristol etc, the small trains do not ie from Barnstaple to Exeter however these can be used by other passengers. This issue needs to be address as some the stations where these trains operate from do not all have facilities and if they do these can only be used when the station is staffed.

K Hounslow:

May 28, 2013 at 11:23 AM

Overall access is poor. Bus stops out side towns are often too far away from the places people live to actually get to the busses. If you manage to get to a bus stop then the next hurdle is that buses have limited wheelchair space so if there is already one/two wheelchairs or a couple of children’s buggies there is no where for another wheelchair user especially on busy routes or during rush hour—some of us work and need to use these services!. Not all train stations are accessible. Some are only accessible some of the time. London is virtually a no go area with so many under-gound stations and buses that are accessible combined with only a few dripped kerbs. The local council provides a special bus service for disabled people but there is no guarantee it will get you where you want to go on time they try but often they just cant do it and they wont provide transport to medical appointments because of this. If they are busy it means you just don’t get to the place you wanted to in time for the activity you planned. They also seem to think that because I am disabled I should be home and tucked up in bed at 9:30pm. If I could use the night bus system this would not be the case but often it is not accessible. In reality, I have to have my own transport if I want t have anything like an independent life, and do the things that most people take for granted.

Frank Sprules:

May 27, 2013 at 02:41 PM

Our daughter is an adult with mental, and some physical disability who needs to use a chair some of the time. We find that the buses on main routes are usually (pushed) wheelchair friendly but non main routes can be a bit of a lottery. Drivers are usually helpful, getting the ramp (if fitted) down and giving us time to get settled. Powered chairs have quite a bit more difficulty. We have not used a train for years so have no experience there.

Margaret Stephenson:

May 27, 2013 at 01:18 PM

My mother was wheelchair bound and there were only a few taxis in Paignton Devon that could actually put the wheelchair with her in it on board without taking her out of it. Most of our local area is covered by a frequent bus service but no room to put a wheelchair on. There is a very good placed for the disabled to go to at Seale Hayne Newton Abbot but no direct bus to the door. Sometimes you can hire the local charity community bus but you have to pay for it and they are not always available when you need them. It must be very hard for people living in rural districts to get out and about. Somtimes there only resource is a taxi which is expensive.

Mark Williams:

May 27, 2013 at 11:03 AM

We should have fully accessible, accountable, affordable public buses, trains and trams in Bristol. Fares should be standard for any journey (eg in Edinburgh it costs £1.50).

Bristol Disability Equality Forum, a disabled person led organisation in Bristol that campaigns for disability equality:

May 27, 2013 at 11:01 AM

First Bus in Bristol has a space for wheelchairs and buggies on some buses. It is a good thing that this access will be extended in the next few years. However, neither group has priority under First Bus guidelines. This should be changed to give wheelchair users priority because buggies can be folded up (bus companies should stipulate that folding buggies only can travel on buses). But wheelchair users cannot fold up their chairs. For Bus services to fulfil their function, its customers, disabled and non-disabled, need reliability. If wheelchair users cannot rely on bus services, they look elsewhere. The alternative for non-drivers is Community Transport. Wheelchair users can travel free on buses in Bristol, but for the first time will be charged to use Community Transport in Bristol due to the City Council’s funding cuts. The cumulative effect is that wheelchair users are disadvantaged in their access to public transport.

Catherine Walsh:

May 26, 2013 at 06:53 PM

Cutbacks and savings have resulted in a lot of rationalization in services. The “fat” has been taken away. What this means for disabled people is that service links have been removed, and routes redesigned for maximum use, where one bus was enough it may now take 2 or 3 with a wait in between each. It may be a long way between each short stage of a broken journey which was once complete.It may be very hard to find where to bus you need to transfer to stops and then board it and if that doesn’t complete your journey go through the process again to link to the next stage. As people are being taken of mobility if they can walk more than 20 yards shouldn’t each change be less than that distance particularly as this does not take account of geography and its affects on disability. I have had to re-locate my work place and radically change the places I shop and socialise as I can no longer reach them. There are friends I can no longer get to. I have a heart problem and asthma, waiting for busses on very cold of windy mornings is terrible, I have a spinal injury and cannot stand for long or walk far. I am having to take driving lessons dispite living in an inner city with no where to park. When I pass I shall have to move. My partner does not have that luxery, he is partially sighted

David Worth:

May 24, 2013 at 07:04 PM

Most are accessible there are problems with some older buses that do not kneel.

The small Citroen and Fiat “urban bus” style taxis are absolutely useless as they do not have suitable grips to enable me to get out of an EXTREMELY thin and uncomfortable seat.

Most trains are great but some of the XC units 220–221 class have extremely limited priority disabled seats no good for a long journey.

Another major problem on busy trains is obtaining a seat including non disabled sitting in these seats and refuse to move. The class 313 ex inner suburban trains on the Brighton to Portsmouth Harbour have no toilets which is absolutely disgusting—I have complained to Southern Trains and my MP A. Sanders Torbay to no avail—the DoT didn’t specify the trains needed toilets.

I regularly travel on FGW, Southern and SWT services

Franklin Brady:

May 24, 2013 at 06:49 PM

Although I use public transport on a daily basis I do find some transport easier to access then others. I am partially sighted and one of the difficulties I find is recognising buses until they arrive and reading bus maps. I feel that all bus stops as well as having inforation boards need to have audio announcements speakers for both blind and partially sighted people. I feel all trains and underground need step free access for disabled people and also passengers with children who have buggies. I frankly feel that a lot of money is spent on improving transport but there is a lot that does need improving. Although bus drivers have announcement speakers they don’t always switch them on which can be an inconvience. I do feel that its great that more staff are being made aware of disabled people I do feel more training needs to be introduced and it is good that all underground stations have announcement speakers. I also feel all overground stations should have announcement speakers to let disabled passengers know what station the’re at and where to get off to change to get on the underground and I also think there should be staff on board to offer assistance if necessary.

Peta Hatton:

May 24, 2013 at 04:37 PM

Comments sent in YILTS (York Independent Living and Travel Skills) on Disability Travel in York—with reference mainly to First York Buses.

Physical accessibility

All the buses are equipped with ramps and rising/dropping mechanisms but not enough space for wheelchairs. Space is often are taken up with prams and drivers do not always give wheelchairs priority. On bus routes and at peak times, travel in a wheelchair is very difficult—bus drivers will drive past someone waiting if they do not have space for a wheelchair

Travel Information

No visual or aural prompts when on the bus to help people recognise their stops

New Apps to give “real time” bus information have just been introduced—excellent but will take time to establish and some young people either cannot afford phones etc or cannot use them

Some bus stops have “real time” electronic displays, which are really useful and allay anxiety and should be more widely used. However, many of them are not accurate—eg they never report if a bus is running late

Staff assistance

Generally the drivers are good with disabled passengers but one bad experience is enough to put off future travellers. First York have just started to make overtures to CYC, asking for disability training—a good start. This should be standard for all drivers

Other issues

We would benefit massively from the use of an Oyster card equivalent for young people. This could be preloaded and mean the young person would not have to use money or talk to the driver—in reality this is one of the biggest points of worry for disabled young people. This would also give parents flexibility that the current ticketing system and bus passes do not provide—eg even the disability bus pass user has to pay a 70p surcharge if catching a Park and Ride bus from the P&R car park—a random charge.

“The layout and design of the Disabled Person’s Concessionary bus passes is crowded and unclear when being displayed to bus drivers by YILTS students. This combined with a lack of awareness by bus drivers, as to the times when the current standard Disabled Person’s Concessionary bus pass can be used in terms of times of day and how this works alongside the enhanced “blind” person concessionary bus pass; causes some difficulties.

An example of this is the use of a Blind Person’s Concessionary bus pass which has a very small logo on the top right indicating the holder is severely sight impaired. If this logo is not clearly visible and/or the driver does not understand how this works, then difficulties can arise.

A solution to this problem would be to issue different coloured passes which are clearly visible indicating the different types of concessionary bus pass along with re-training/awareness-raising for drivers eg bright red for a Blind Person’s pass, bright purple for a Blind Person’s pass with travel companion travelling free, bright yellow for a standard Disabled Person’s pass.”

The one change I would like to see is to the concessionary bus pass for people with disabilities. It cannot be used before 9.00 meaning that the students I am trying to move from a council funded taxi to using the buses, have to buy a ticket to get to school, but not to get home. A new pass could be introduced for this age group so they can access places of education in the morning as well as the afternoon


May 24, 2013 at 02:15 PM

I live in south wales and rookwood hospital have over seventy five thousand on the waiting list for a wheelchair in south wales.

when you do eventually have a wheelchair you need a carer or volunteer to take you out as the joystick controls is at the back of the wheelchair, there are not enough volunteers available and carers are fifteen pounds a hour, carers only get six pounds something minimum wage, the rest of the money goes to their boss, the carers finish one job and start the next job at the same time, so if the time on their sheet is to start at my house at nine o clock, the last house they were at finishes at nine o clock, they are always late because their boss as them to finish and start a job at same time

so some taxis want you to book a disabled taxi in advance, but you cannot do that as carers are late, one carer came one hour and thirty minutes late as her last call had problems and she had to stay until ambulance came, so i could not have a disabled taxi booked as it would be still ticking away at huge amount of money before even getting in it, carers have to pay the milage of petrol from and to the person they are caring for and they only have minimum wage, even though it is fifteen pounds per hour,

still have steps to get on busses and the only ramp buses are to cardiff and the ramps are no good to wheelchairs like i have with kerb crawlers on, peyton disabilty taxis want sixty pounds one way and another disability taxi wants sixteen pounds one way, they take advantage of us, i phoned the council taxi licencing people who give licences to taxis and the mps and welsh assembly as we had no taxis here for wheelchairs, after lots of complaining we now they have a disability taxi, but if need to go to hospital or anywhere in morning or afternoon, you cannot go as they use the disability taxi for school runs, if in evening or night, the actual words they say is, sorry none available, we have had to let them go home to get their sleep so they can get up for their school runs, I know this as my daughter who as visited wanted a disability taxi as to wheel her pram on it to take her home and every time shes phoned to ask there are none, another disability taxi firm charges eight pounds and fifty pence, it has just gone up another pound, plus they want you to pay a membership of ten pounds on top, when same distance in another disability taxi is four pounds fifty pence this is not right this system here, one street has pavements with correct concrete ramps in drive ways and crossing the roads and hundreds of other streets have pavements where you have to go up and down the edge of pavements in drive ways and edges of pavements the carers struggle getting my wheelchair along or have to walk all up road to five no low part of the kerb to go down and we have to go all back down the road and further down a road to be able to cross the road and back up again to where we want to go, plus on my weekly shop day on an extremely busy road there is no pedestrian crossing, if we cross the one there is and go across the pedestrian lights and walk down that road we would have to go onto the dangerous road to walk as there is grass along where a pavement should be, I live in a town area where these things should be safe, i could take you to these places, if you wheelchair me that is, i cannot remember the exact miles on these signs but approximately one road has a sign saying half a mile and if you cross the road it has another sign saying two and half miles because of fire arms, on doors they gave me patio doors, but the ridge is raised and sharp so if a fire occured i would be cremated, they know my situation before they put the patio door in, i cannot go out the beautiful sunshine back garden, it has three triangular washing lines which are down a hill of grass, to dangerous for me plus fire armed door, in my passage it has a light which bashes against a door when you open the door, in winter no taxis of any kind will pick anyone up, whether they are disabled or normal because of the road, they will only pick you up on the main road, so if i wanted a food shop i will have to starve in winter, not even supermarket delivery will chance it, i cannot write no more as this making me sadder, hope this helps you to help us.


May 24, 2013 at 12:59 PM

There is no consideration for people with autism or Aspergers syndrome on public transport. I would like to see areas designated as quiet zones on buses or trains. We used to have smoking areas on busses and trains so I don’t see this as any more difficult to achieve. These areas would need to be free from mobile phones, laptops, personal stereos, talking and eating food, as noise and smells can make using transport prohibative if your on the spectrum. Personally I have had to get off busses or move carrages on trains to get away from noise & unpleaseant smells.

I would imagine that there are people not on the spectrum that would enjoy travelling in quiet zones too.

David J Brown:

May 24, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Accessible taxis are increasingly common, but there is no guarantee one will be there if there is a holdup or missed connection, and pre-booked companies cannot guarantee to send one if there is a time change. Many are OK with ramps or hoists but very inconvenient for elderly walkers with bad knees who cannot climb into high vehicles with inadequate grab rails.

Kings Cross Station: The new concourse is good but the route form the Victoria Line is a very long walk and not clear where it is taking one.

Bodmin Parkway Station: access is fine travelling westward, but eastward involves a footbridge, no lift and problem for elderly with luggage or wheelchair users.

Melow Meldrew:

May 24, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Why Physical accessibility and not include sensory access as well ? It is no use combining physical and sensory access under the same headings,this detracts from very different needs via access to transports, including displays on buses/trains etc. And access to tickets etc... Deaf/Blind need to be a separate survey and consultation,a wider door won’t help the deaf, or assist them to follow people who run transport systems..

Catherine Sorsby:

May 23, 2013 at 04:21 PM

I am fed up of other people deciding what is supposedly accessible for wheelchair users, and getting it wrong! Local taxis of the London Hackney Carraige type are a good example of this, because drivers often don’t know how to fit their own ramps safely, and when they eventually get me into the cab (facing the correct way)I can’t use the seatbelt safely because the anchorage points are in an unsuitable place. So I have to travel facing the wrong way (according to H&S rules) or without a seatbelt, and in an unsecured wheelchair, or not travel at all. There have been several new designs of buses here, but the designers forget that we need room to manoeuvre into a wheelchair space. It’s like trying to get a car into a parking bay that is exactly the same length and width as your car. I keep joking that the only way I can get into the wheelchair space is if someone drops me in through the roof! Then to get off the bus I have to reverse up the aisle, which with passengers standing in the aisle is difficult and embarrassing. It has stopped me using buses and the Hackney-type taxis. Some of the Euro-cabs are better, but not always available. We have Supertram here in Sheffield, which is fairly accessible but still with significant problems. I’m dreading the next change of tram design because it looks like it will create more barriers. Fortunately we have a “Transport for All” group of service users that work closely with transport providers to anticipate & overcome problems, but better design of vehicles, stations, bus stops etc would help, as would removal of a (fortunately)small number of rude and ignorant staff.

Sandra ward:

May 23, 2013 at 03:25 PM

Something needs to be done to make train companies accountable for the often appalling service disabled people, like me have in trying to travel. I have countless letters of “sorry” from South West Trains, but still it’s very hit and miss. Leaving you stranded on a platform , overbooking your place on a train(there is only one place on mine) staff saying they have had no knowledge you needed help getting on to the train despite booking two weeks before this type of incident is common. Public buses that take you put cannot take you back because they are not accessible so you must find a taxi, which can cost mega bucks here in the country to get home. A booking service for getting assistance on trains that now is twice as complicated and discriminates against you using the face to face contact at your station, the list goes on. What’s my worth to these companies? A wave of an official hand a “sop” of a voucher I find increasingly difficult to cash. Oh and best being told over and over “it’s a one off we will have an inquiry”. I have never been told what if anything, resulted. Appalling . Give us the nod I’ll come and tell you. Sandra ward

Disability, Rights and Politics Group, Brent Mencap:

May 23, 2013 at 02:47 PM

The doors on the underground shut too quickly—(2 members say they will not travel on the underground because of this).

Members thought it is too difficult for people in wheelchairs to get on and off the buses. They have seen that there is more room on the buses for wheelchairs, which is good, but thought that this makes the drivers’ job harder when people do not get on one at a time.

People with buggies still take up the wheelchair space.

Buggies are getting bigger and it is hard when people with a big buggy try and get on from the front of the bus.

Buses move away from bus stops too quickly.

Drivers do not give people enough time—there should be more time for people with disabilities.

More could be done for people to be comfortable on the buses.

It is horrible travelling on the tube (a wheelchair user). Lots of stations don’t have lifts—it should be possible at all of them.

A number of members will not travel on the buses at school travel times, because they do not feel safe. School children can be very noisy.

It is not nice when people eat on the buses.

There is too much litter on the buses.

Ailsa Spackman:

May 23, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Our local station (Dawlish) is only manned for about 7 hours a day. If one arrives from the Exeter/London direction it is necessary to cross the line to exit the station. This is only possible if accompanied by the man on duty. It is therefore impossible to leave the station after 1500 hours and before that only if the employee is willing and not too busy! We are a holiday town with people arriving who are totally unaware of the problem. As a disabled person who tries to be involved in disability issues, which includes meetings in Exeter, I have to drive as meetings do not end to suit the station staff.

We are told to go to Teignmouth or Newton Abbot where it is possible to cross. Newton Abott adds at least an hour to the journey whilst Teignmouth necessitates a quarter mile walk including steps or a steep hill.

As Exeter is where the hospital, clothes shops etc. are the disabled and infirm feel trapped and as for the disabled trying to work the train is useless unless they have work that ends at 1400 hours. So much for getting the disabled into work do the assessors take this in to account when they say that someone is capable of working?

michelle challens:

May 23, 2013 at 08:32 AM

I help visually impaired people use public transport on a regular basis. Knowing where they are on the route is vital when using buses. Having a verbal notification system would make what is now a dependent journey (having to rely on others to know where you are) into an independent journey. Removing barriers allows freedom to choose, increased confidence, improved mental and physical people.

Lindsey Bidder:

May 22, 2013 at 04:52 PM

I recently took a group of 12 able-bodied children with a variety of special educational needs on a trip to a local market using public transport as part of the experience. Actual access onto the bus was fine and the group was courteous in letting more elderly travellers get on and off the bus first, however, we did receive one or two unexpected comments from both the driver and a traveller with regards to how long it was taking us all to get on or off the bus, with the driver actually stating that we were making the bus run even later than it already was!

Phil Gleeson:

May 22, 2013 at 03:34 PM

There are many problems with access on all forms of transport.

Train stations don’t have effective lighting for people with visual impairments, the sound systems never give clear and concise announcements for people with hearing difficulties. Barries when manned become like horse markets when a train is emptying. If there is ever a power cut (which leeds city station has) a person in a wheelchair is stuck at one platform and cannot get to another. If you are lucky to get on a train the place where you are put in your chair is more akin to the old goods wagons, cold and draughty and where people dump there baggage. The ramps are so dangerous you fear for your life when you go on them.

Buses are just pointless trying to use as most drivers refuse to get up and use the ramp using the “bad back” excuse. If you do get on there are prams in the way and refuse to break them down. Drivers will intentionally park away from the raised kerb so you cant get on and just laugh whilst you struggle to get on.

All in all transport companies in this country just don’t care about the disabled and elderly.

PSI Network Leeds:

May 22, 2013 at 03:22 PM

The people who live at Terry Yorath House struggle to use public transport for the following reasons:

Many new buses have a dividing bar at the door-which is to separate people getting onto the bus from people getting off the bus. This prevents someone using a wheelchair from getting onto the bus at all

If this is access to a bus, there is often someone with a child in a pushchair who is already on the bus-the driver does not ask them to fold the buggy up and have the child sit with the adult-instead the person in a wheelchair is told to wait for the next bus-this can happen several buses in a row leaving someone waiting for over an hour when the buses are every ten minutes-this has happened to people living in Leeds

The drivers do not always seem willing to get out of their cab and utilise the ramp

Philip Booth:

May 22, 2013 at 11:47 AM

The following are some of the comments were made by people with a learning disability looking at transport issues in Gloucestershire. This group has met several times with the County Council and are working together to seek a number of improvements:

“There is only one wheelchair accessible taxi in Stroud; this is a problem. One person had to order a taxi from Gloucester just to go 2 miles. It cost £80.”

“There is a problem with wheelchairs and buggies on the buses; not enough room sometimes”.

“Bus passes don’t start until 9.30 and this means I have to pay for the bus to go to my work experience; I haven’t really got money for that”.

“Buses don’t stop near enough the kerbs”.

There were many comments about bullying on the buses; eg “you ask about access; well I know people wont go on the bus because they have been bullied”, “Bus drivers are sometimes rude”, “Drivers don’t do anything when passengers are nasty to us—swearing, chucking cans and saying horrible things,” “School kids chuck gum at me” and “We hope we can train bus drivers in the future to be better at helping.”

- “I can’t go out in the evening because there is no bus.”

kelechi chioba:

May 22, 2013 at 10:32 AM

hi most of the transportation are accessible but some are not and the drivers are rude.

i would love all the buses to be accessible because some buses i stop tell me they don’t have a ramp, i should wait for another one.

Also spaces for the disabled in the buses should be increased, just only one space is unfair to us.

Also taxis that can carry powered wheel chair is very expensive, it makes us feel cheated on because if we were normal in quote we would have taken the normal taxi which is cheaper, please if you would address the transport fare normalising it for the powered wheel chair users.

Also ABC transport, when i was using the manual chair, the taxi driver told me that he doesn’t carry disabled people on wheel chair, I told him the manual wheel chair can be folded, he frowned his face, that it will spoil his car, that he must increase my fare, I told him the amount the company told me to pay he said no, that why didn’t i tell the company i’m disabled. That was so embarrassing because it was happening infront of my university.

Please we didn’t make ourselves like this

Andy Lyle:

May 21, 2013 at 03:38 PM

Public Transport in rural areas is either at times when you do not want it or not at all. The government needs to come and see for itself first hands the issues we face in our local community in accessing public transport!

Community Transport Groups try to fill the huge gap but funding is not there to provide regular services to the outlying rural areas.

It is a BIG ISSUE for people to get out and about, which affects also their health and well being putting a greater strain on limited resources.

Tim McSharry:

May 21, 2013 at 02:35 PM

With regards to choice, opportunities, service, participation and equality of access, the discriminating reality for many disabled people is nothing less than Public Transport Apartheid. For too long the segregation of disabled people has been accepted as the `default` position when it comes to our trains, buses, aircraft, airports, stations and infrastructure. There are vast hidden costs to the public purse in allowing such Public Transport Apartheid to continue, in addition to the very significant person and family costs associated with enforced exclusion and isolation. Thanks to the inquiry that is being conducted by Louise Ellman MP, just maybe, we have the opportunity to take some tentative steps towards meaningful and full transport equality, to quote Nelson Mandela, “There is no such thing as part freedom”.

Tim McSharry, Access Committee For Leeds

Tracy Madden:

May 21, 2013 at 01:10 PM

My colleagues and I have been asked to share the experiences of the people who use our services in relation to accessing transport. I thought it would be useful to share the mobility strategy carried out in Sheffield over the last few years (in case you haven’t seen this). Although the strategy was carried out in 2010 it involved an in depth consultation and details 49 issues that the disabled people of Sheffield identified. The strategy led to the development of a Travel Solutions team and travel guide.

I have included the link where the strategy and travel guide can be downloaded; I was unable to send an email with the documents attached as I received an error message stating the content size was too big.

Here is the link:

I hope this information is useful to you and I’m sure if you were to contact the travel solutions team they could provide you with more current travel issues affecting those in Sheffield and the surrounding areas. There contact details are: or telephone 0114 2685271.

Tracy Madden

Service Manager, Sheffield Support at Home
Leonard Cheshire Disability

Rosie Swift:

May 20, 2013 at 03:52 PM

My son has a electric wheelchair and have found buses are the best Taxis either just cant be bothered as it takes too long to get a wheelchair in and strapped down or they are not big enough for a wheelchair and passengers most can only take a manual chair and one passenger. The ramps are too small and too steep on alot of taxis. We live in Middlesbrough.

John Lavender:

May 20, 2013 at 02:19 PM

My daughter is profoundly mentally and physically handicapped. She is partially sighted, deaf and has no speech. She is 23 but has a mental age of a 3 year old.

She also has many other physical deformities.

She is too disabled to go to a post office to get a disability freedom pass even with support.

I wrote to TFL, the responsible minister and our local mp (Andrew Rossindell) who all made clear they could not give a damn. Before the regulations were changed to insist that the disabled person must go to the post office themselves our local social services recognising that my daughter could not go to a post office used to organise and send the pass to us.

By virtue of her disability my daughter cannot have a disabled freedom pass. If this enquiry was too achieve anything it could act decisively to ensure that the most disabled were not denied freedom passes as a result of their disability.

mandie lewis:

May 20, 2013 at 10:33 AM

I agree with many of the comments already made, but the main problem I have encountered all the time is inconsistency. Sometimes you can access a bus and find a space for Wheelchair, sometimes the taxi has the correct ramps and the driver knows how to use it and helps, sometimes the space on the train is free, sometimes you can get around with drop down kerbs, wide enough doors, electric doors, lifts that work etc. But very often this is not the case, the bus is an old style bus you cannot access, the stop you want is not accessible, the taxi may have a ramp, but the wheelchair will not fit in through the door-too tall, the taxi driver does not want to help, the space on the train is occupied by anything other than a wheelchair, ofter bikes.You can never be sure that there will be a drop down kerb where is should be , or it is suitable- not like one close to where I live that is over a drain. Physical access can never be guaranteed, there may be electric door to get you into a building then non electic in other places, having to travel in goods lifts if others broken. It is theinconsistency that makes life very difficult.

carol campbell:

May 20, 2013 at 09:11 AM

very mixed, mainline stations are only accessible with support, public announcements are difficult to hear.

virgin trains customer care service is excellent.

east midland trains you cannot book a priority seat online so you end up in a seat with no guide dog space.

bus drivers often don’t stop at the kerb -so on a number of occasions I have fallen getting off a bus.

many taxi drivers will not take a guide dog.

some bus drivers do not stop for a blind person at a request stop.

Stuart O’Dell:

May 20, 2013 at 09:10 AM

I am Disability Equality and Access Officer at Bedford Borough Council. I frequently receive reports and complaints about people with pushchairs and buggies occupying the spaces on buses which are intended for wheelchair-users, and the bus driver can only ask them to give up the space. Regrettably, on many occasions this request is refused, and the wheelchair-user is forced to wait for the next bus (when it may occur again!).

Elisabeth Abbott:

May 19, 2013 at 01:28 PM

I use buses trains and sometimes tube and DLR boTh in Central and East London.

The biggest problem for me on most of London buses now is that the seats more often than not have no space under them for my guide dog to get herself out of the way so she doesn’t get trodden on. Designated spaces for people with disabilities are taken by the able bodied who ignore us until I ask them to move, I frequently get some very rude responses to my requests. Along with sight loss I also have a problem with balance. Drivers often don’t wait for disabled and older passengers to sit down before they pull away from the stop and I have been thrown across the aisle on more than one occasion. Drivers also jerk the buses as the change gear I don’t know if this is an design problem with engines or bad training for the drivers. Bus stops frequently have litter bins placed so that they obstruct the doors and make it difficult to get on and off the bus especially if the bus can’t get straight with the kerb. I have one more than one occasion slipped between the bus and the kerb.

Trains on the whole are reasonably accessible but some have very high stops up from the platform to the train. The space problem under seats for my dog is the same on local trains as on buses and travel during rush hour is a nightmare. Again disabled seat stickers are ignored. People are incredibly rude when they are told that seat space is taken up by my dog. Long distance trains are better designed to cope with this problem.

Since my dog is not trained to use escalators many tube stations and changeovers are totally inaccessible for us. If emergency stairs are available they are often dirty or badly lit. I am told that escalators can be stopped but finding a member of staff prepared to do it is often impossible.

Kathryn Unsworth:

May 18, 2013 at 11:48 PM

I have experienced taking students who use wheelchairs on public transport- mainly buses. Transport is accessible in Preston and most drivers are helpful BUT they have schedules being monited and get behind when people take longer to get on/off the bus so can get anxious and seem unhelpful.

Bus service great and came to school to let students practice getting on/off bus. They just need to allow time for this to happen in real life.

rosemary trustam:

May 18, 2013 at 01:57 AM

At a recent conference of self advocates with learning disabilities, the point was raised that because of the limited provision for people with wheelchairs within the bus, if there are people with push chairs and prams there may not be room, and if two people with wheelchairs who live together want to go out they can’t travel on the same bus. Is it not possible for buses to be made with more seating which folds up to make the space but can be put down for ordianry passengers to use when there aren’t disabled people in wheelchairs on the bus. If designers of buses could sort this out it would make transpiort more flexible for both disabeld people and mothers with children in prams and push chairs

sam heaton:

May 17, 2013 at 04:01 PM

i’m registered blind with only around 10% vision remaining. i have 2 main accessibility issues. lighting levels on smaller unmanned stations. there are stations locally i wouldnt use alone as i would to put it bluntly end up on the track. Morley train station in west yorkshire is an example of this. the only exit or route to the other platform is stairs. flights of stairs are bad enough to navigate when vision impaired anyway but when it is later in the day i would find this station impossible and unsafe to use due to the lack of decent lighting. my other issue is the computerised info/platform notification boards at train stations .why do they have to be so high up. not everyone can read large print without being close up to it

debbie Harris:

May 17, 2013 at 01:51 PM

I am a wheelchair user and have had good and bad experiences when using the rail network. I do object to having to call ahead 24 hours before travel to book the ramps as I may like to travel spontaneously!

I often find that the disabled seat area is being used by non disabled but they usually move when asked. I have at times been loaded into a regular carriage and so had to travel in the door area—more staff training needed.

In the event of diversion, break down etc there has been very poor communication on what to do with me.

On the occasions that the system has worked well it has been great and shows what is achievable should always be available

Shona Chambers:

May 16, 2013 at 04:54 PM

One major issue that we have come across as parents of a physically and mentally disabled child is accessing Toilet facilities whilst on Aircraft. We travel to USA twice each year for Therapy for my son and obviously there are long flights involved. WC’s are just not big enough for him and another person/Carer. Recently some members of the the GB Paralympic Team were also on our flight and they too really struggled with the VERY limited WC Space.

Clare Mason:

May 16, 2013 at 10:22 AM

I feel that bus travel is becoming more and more difficult for people with visual imapairments and other disabilities such as dementia. In this day and age, it should be getting easier, not more difficult.

Improvements have been made as in “kneeling buses,” spaces for wheelchairs and pushchairs but for people with sensory impairment and spatial difficulties, it’s a nightmare.

Stickers have been plastered all over bus windows and they are rarely ckean, bus stations are now full glass windows which are great for light but only reflect the interior and the lights when it’s dark.

There are few or no announcements when buses change platforms or are running late or as is frequent in Bradford, cancelled.

The drivers have now been surrounded by glass screens, great for security, a nightmare if you’re trying to tell what he or she is saying.

Drivers are rude and rarely offer help.

New ticket machines give a “silent” ticket so you can’t hear that it’s come out of the machine and the driver rarely tells you to take it. If they do, it’s not in pleasant way.

Why are disabled people only allowed to travel half fare or free after 9.30am? We are being encouraged to use public transport and go to work. I will never be able to drive but do work.


May 15, 2013 at 09:09 PM

I travel on Southern,South Eastern Trains have Rheumatoid Arthritis—terrible horizontal and vertical gaps between the platform and the train, very difficult to negotiate, almost impossible if you have any form of luggage. Sometimes the drop to the platform is so deep, I feel I’m going to fall. I work full time locally—would like to commute and earn more, but it’s too difficult.

Also the P seats thing—I think P cards should be issued by doctors, and inspected by the guards, so that people with disabilities can carry them and get seats when trains are crowded. Currently, the notices about the disabled seats are just ignored. Agree with comments below re prams, especially on buses

Anne Taylor:

May 15, 2013 at 04:15 PM

I find the accessibility of many vehicles is difficult. I have tried Buses but the ramps are so steep you need someone to get you up it. I use Taxis several times a week and some have more room than others and with wheelchairs it is essential you are positioned to back of chair in front or you move which can be dangerous.

Val Milnes:

May 15, 2013 at 03:08 PM

As a wheelchair user (not wheelchair bound as previous commentators have described me) I would find it extremely difficult to wheel independently to a bus stop because there are no dropped kerbs on my estate. If weather was inclement it would be impossible to either push in snow and ice or arrive dry—one cannot carry an umbrella and push a wheelchair simultaneously. That’s the first problem. The second would be the issue of accessing the space on a bus—most are taken up by pushchairs. Although many buses now have ramps, bus drivers have schedules to keep to and they are incessantly grumpy in having to take time to let a wheelchair user gain access.

Trains are another problem altogether. As a wheelchair user I must call a specialist disability helpline in order to book the wheelchair space. In my experience the coach carrying the wheelchair space is sometimes not even attached to the train and I have had to wait for the next one (on occasions the wheelchair space is often taken up by another wheelchair passenger). The wheelchair spaces are regularly taken up with other passengers’ luggage or mums with pushchairs or some sleeping lout with legs spread akimbo under the table and encroaching the wheelchair space. Some trains still do not have accessible toilets which means that a long journey is practically impossible. And why should I arrive at the station half an hour early simply because I am a wheelchair user? What purpose does that serve. In addition, even after having booked assistance I have got to my destination and there is no-one there to assist me off the train. I was dumped at the end of the line on a Durham to Coventry train not long ago. All the passengers alighted, the lights went out and I was left alone. Had it not been for a cleaner arriving goodness knows how long I would have been there.

Taxis are a different issue—not all are accessible and London is a nightmare. There are cab drivers who see a wheelchair user and simply will not take them. There are others who do not wish to drop the ramp and insist on levering one into the cab—health and safety nightmare—same on getting out. Plus, I have never been in a London black cab where the driver has tied my wheelchair down—this leads to an extremely uncomfortable journey with me hanging on for deal life. I have on one occasion been propelled out of the chair onto the passengers sitting in the seat opposite me. Taxi firms should not be given a licence if they do not provide a 24/7 service—we wheelchair users do go out at night but I have come across taxi firms that only provide a daytime service.

Tube stations are simply a no go area for me as they are totally non accessible.

I have rarely come across anything that could be described as good practice apart from when Virgin ran the East Coast line, their staff were brilliant despite the environment (inaccessible stations/toilets/waiting rooms) that they had to work with.

Jamie Dowling:

May 15, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Buses are becoming more reasonably accessible, although the use of single decker and smaller buses on many routes can make it difficult for wheelchair bound passengers to get anywhere in good time, especially if the driver and/or passengers are unwilling to move for the wheelchair. Smaller bus companies often use vehicles which are not accessible for wheelchair bound passengers. This seems to be something ignored by local authorities when taking tenders into account.

Coaches are a problem. I am not wheelchair bound and even at my best I have trouble getting on to coaches. Whenever I travel between cities, coaches are always my last choice. On some occasions I have cancelled my trip because only coaches were available when I wanted to travel.

Bus stops are a problem. Many, especially in residential areas, do not have sufficient space for the bus to pull in and lower the ramp so wheelchair bound passengers can board safely. Often cars are parked in ways which prevent ramp deployment while sometimes drivers simply cannot be bothered to park in a way which allows a wheelchair bound passenger to board.

Trains are a different matter. All trains should be accessible and have dedicated spaces for wheelchairs, however there are many which are not. Chiltern Trains services running from Marylebone to Birmingham seem to lack wheelchair spaces. Great Anglia services from Liverpool Street also seem to share this lack of wheelchair spaces.

Disabled provision on trains can and must improve. As must education for commuters, especially those with bicycles who block seats with their bicycles and refuse to move them so people, including disabled people can sit down. It follows that cycle policies must be properly enforced and train managers be instructed to police them proactively. Disabled or not, passengers should not stand because an ignorant person cannot be bothered to put their bike or bag somewhere sensible.

Train, Tube & tram stations cannot claim to be completely accessible until they have an immediate call out response from engineers on lift repairs. I have seen lifts at stations with “out of order” signs on them for days.

There are many train stations in the London area which do not have wheelchair accessibility. The majority of stations in my native West Midlands have wheelchair access unless the geography physically prevents this.

That London is so far behind other cities in the UK is an indictment of all involved in public transport provision, particularly when London hosted the Paralympic Games.

Many tube stations will need massive amounts of work to become completely accessible; this appears to be an ongoing task. There are still tube trains which lack dedicated spaces for wheelchairs—the District and Bakerloo lines being examples.

In terms of good practice Birmingham’s Midland Metro is a good example of how to integrate disabled access into public transport systems. What little I have seen of the Croydon Tramlink suggests similar attention has been paid to accessibility. I would say the same for the DLR but the number of stairs at stations and the condition of the lifts is often less than pleasant.

kerry clark:

May 14, 2013 at 10:16 PM

As a carer i am concerned about using trains for people i care for just incase we are unable to get on and off at various stations. I dont feel trains advertise disabled access very well

i dont usually have problems with my local bus companies, but what i am finding more of lately is people with pushchairs being to lazy to fold them up and it stops people with disabilities particularly wheelchair users from getting on the buses. I think this is really unfair

Bridgit A Sam-Bailey:

May 14, 2013 at 09:12 PM

I sometimes use the buses and I find that some passengers who occupy the seats designated for the use of older, and disabled, people are loathe to give up the seats. I have been abused when I have requested such people to let me have a seat. On one occasion I sat with m my stroller next to me, and it was deliberately rammed against my knees. The was exceedingly painful.

Alan Chantler:

May 14, 2013 at 03:14 PM

I am currently unable to use public transport at all owing to disabilities

Fiona Hind:

May 14, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Problems I experience are:-


Locating the right stop—flags are too high/small, small print and relfectance from screen obscures the bus number/timetable information.

An inability to read the number and destination of the approaching bus.

Stopping the right bus.

Being unable to see the bus drivers’ physical responses—misunderstandings occur as a consequence: feelings of inadequacy, humiliation and stress.

Locating a seat—often priority seats are taken and I have problems locating a vacant seat until I am close by it—often I will not wander further down the bus in case I make a fool of myself by not finding a seat.

Falling down a central-step when moving towards the front of the bus.

Catching my legs on the said step when moving out of the seat adjacent to the step.

Slipping on refuse on the floor, particularly in wet weather.

Falling/unsteadiness/staggering due to drivers’ not waiting until I sit down/breaking suddenly when I have risen to alight.

Difficulties stowing luggage, baggage.

Opening the windows.

Getting off at the right stop—drivers do not always remember to alert me—increased stress levels are incurred.


Locating the ticket office, (cannot use the ticket machines), often too much glass—reflectance = visual confusion.

Locating a staff member to obtain assistance.

Unable to read the train information board—my train/another? Announcements are erratic, are unclear and merge with other sounds—ie: a train waiting at a platform nearby.

I cannot find my booked seat—numbers too small/far away, etc. Cannot see to read the on-board-information (emergency procedure, etc.).

Problems with locating luggage (moved by others during the journey)—over-head racks are often too shallow, therefore monitoring is a problem.

Changing trains—which platform? Which way is it? Which is A/B etc.

Getting on/off—Clapham Junction is particularly bad—gap is wide/high and train leans away from the platform—intimidating, can’t get off with luggage, etc. Vauxhall is similar. Lift access is difficult—where is it, how to operate it.

Where is the toilet/Is it vacant (on-board/concourse)? Toilet signage is poor, problems locking/unlocking doors, locating relevant items in the toilet, etc.

Assistance Service is erratic, I have often had to locate the assistant: which is difficult with a sight loss. Once found staff are always very helpful. Exeter Station’s staff are often the easiest to locate—often near the train door.


Which way is out? Where is the “helpful” assistant point? Which way are the barriers? Is it the right tube? Problems getting on/off due to gaps particularly on the Northern Line. Not all lines have audible announcements—those that do are good but can conflict with other sounds. Low lighting levels reduce my visual performance.


Need to go to a rank—cannot hail a taxi on the street. Not sure if there is a driver in the cab as can’t see through glass due to reflections. Cannot read the meter, difficulties with locating the door handle, window mechanism, etc. Many taxi drivers do not offer assistance: those that do are great. Cannot read body language so can feel vulnerable in unknown areas.

Sheila Smith:

May 13, 2013 at 05:20 PM

I am not myself disabled but have had care responsibilities for my elderly father (now deceased). Our local hospital is the Royal Surrey County Hospital, and as my father was in residential care, the hospital transport service was available. They seemed to be timely and caring; he was wheelchair bound. The Royal Surrey access it seemed to me was excellently placed being immediately adjacent to a main road A3 and only a short bus ride or taxi from the Guildford Railway. This pivotal location in the heart of Surrey seems to me to be a great advantage for NHS or Private patients whether disabled or not. It is possible to get with reasonable effort from Cranleigh at one end of the Waverley borough by bus and Haslemere by Hoppa or train service. Provided the vehicle (or train) is accessible to the patient this hospital is in a good location. I cannot comment on the vehicular transport apart from the hospital patient transport because I have not had to use them. The difficulty I did have was that at that time the after 5.30 transport was not patient transport contract but the emergency ambulances, which made it late at night to return him home. Since then I believe the hospital has improved this, but I have no personal experience of this.

Adam Lotun:

May 13, 2013 at 04:37 PM

As a manual wheelchair user, physical accessibility is a general bugbear of mine.

I have had to give up my driving licence due to my conditions and now must rely on public transport to get anywhere.

I have found that ramps are rarely checked on buses and that buses continue to be used with faulty ramps. I have raised many complaints with TfL about this and have become so frustrated that I have resorted to taking legal action against bus companies regarding ramp failures. I have had out-of-court settlements and am engaged in one case where it looks like we will be going to Court.

I cannot understand how ramps fail from the bus depot to the first bus stop on the routes and also how they fail upon being used the first time, as I have found myself stuck on a bus with a broken ramp and the driver does not know what to do.

I have also experienced failures on using ramps on trains and tube services and have been tipped off ramps when being loaded and received injuries that have impacted on my existing disabilities.

It has got to the point where I no-longer trust anyone to load me on ramps and I feel that hoisting myself in and out of my chair and on and off carriages more preferable.

I also do not understand why there are no accessible places on 1st Class Train Services and why train and tube staff do not challenge travellers using accessible places when they are required by disabled customers.

It seems that disabled customers are just tolerated as something that may or may-not be an experienced in their working day, and as such the disabled customer should be grateful to be shoved into any spare space that is available.

I truly feel that as a disabled person, I should not expect any rights to travel on public transport services and be grateful when I do manage to access any such services.

It beggars belief as to the amount of times that lifts are broken, often for days/weeks on end, along with faulty ramps of staff not being available to use manual ramps, and the number of times I have been left on trains at the end of the line.

But my biggest complaint has to be why is the dot matrix display directly above wheelchair space on buses, so wheelchair users cannot see them when they finally manage to back into the space!

Beth Gregson-allcott:

May 13, 2013 at 03:18 PM

I am now reliant on my electric wheelchair when out and about.

I lived in Nottingham for many years and took the public transpoirt for granted they have 100% wheelchair accesible buses. It does not always means you can get on one if people with buggies are in the space and soemtimes drivers just shake thier head as they go by.

I now live in Luton and its a very different story, I recently found out (after my car was off the road) that my route is not wheelchair accessible the double deckers are old with deep steps, even using a stick this would be difficult to access.

Arriva buses have poor information—actually its impossible to find out info about accessiblity, consesionary passes etc. some companies are very good and really seem to want disabled passengers others dont.

It can be the same with trains, its pot luck if you get a ramp, if someone is there even if you have booked via the assistance phone No—it seems public trnaspoit providers see disabled people as a hindrance rather than as paying customers

Martin Griffiths:

May 13, 2013 at 12:37 PM

I am profoundly deaf and registered sight impaired.

Physical access to transport is relatively poor.

Many bus stops do not provide accessible information and timetables. Information is often displayed in places where it is hard to get close to the information. Information is often in too small text with poor contrast. In my experience many of the timetable posters have plenty of unused space that would enable bigger more prominent information. Often pictures and adverts that do not provide information take up too much space reducing what space is left to display information.

On board buses—there is rarely any audio-visual information telling you which stops you are approaching. It is hard for sight impaired people to identify stops especially in low light. Relying on drivers to signal a stop to you has sometimes worked but drivers are prone to forget as I have experienced.

It is hard to see buses approaching—many have poorly lit displays indicating the service number and destination. Drivers tend to bypass stops unless a hand is held out even though I am at the stop.

It would be brilliant if there were smartphone apps that provided real time tracking information that told you which bus was on its way to your stop and what stop your bus is approaching next. There are sms numbers that tell you scheduled services expected at your stop but this does not update with actual service delays and cancellations.

Train stations have the same problem regarding accessible information. Often wrong place, too small text, poor design. Often visual information on platforms is on a screen too high with too small text.

Many local rail services have no audio-visual information. Some main line services have this facility to show next stops but often it is not switched on.

Mainline trains operated by Virgin have electronic carriage letter displays so people can identify the carriage they have reserved a seat in. Often these are not working and it is difficult to find your carriage.

Announcements on buses and trains are not visual and often I miss vital information especially in poor weather or when there is an incident. Again the ability to receive this information visually would help.

Train tracker software needs to be more accessible for smartphone users. Often mobile applications do not allow adjustments to font size and type. This means people have to use camera/laptop zoom features which magnify text but do not contain it within a viewable window. Scrolling up and down and left and right makes it hard to access.

Taxi’s are generally ok provided I can book from home but I would like taxi firms to accept bookings by text message. Some large firms do this but most do not. Some firms that accept sms bookings only allow you to do this for registered addresses. However if you are out on the street and need a taxi it is impossible to contact one if you are deaf. I wouldn’t mind registering or making online up front payments to secure sms bookings.

Taxi drivers often object to assistance dogs according to deaf and blind friends of mine and some have even reported that drivers try to charge extra for assistance dogs and for wheelchairs.

Taxi drivers could install loops in taxis to converse with deaf customers. Good communication tactics such as turning down their personal music players and radios would help communication too.

R A J:

May 13, 2013 at 12:02 PM

South Leicestershire.

Wheelchair user (electric).

Buses totally accessible.

Some buses may be accessible but they refuse point blank to give me a timetable showing the buses I may use.

So I can’t go anywhere by bus because even if I could get into the county town—there is no guarantee I could get home.

Garry Knight:

May 12, 2013 at 11:00 PM

I travel by bus as little as possible as it is so painful for me, so I get the train as much as possible for shopping and days out. The problem is that my nearest station is Hayes (Kent) and, while getting on and off a train is difficult at the best of times due to the height of the step on and off, at Hayes it is even worse as platform 1 is much, much lower than platform 2.

This not only makes it more difficult and painful getting on but when I get a train back to Hayes, I always have to make sure I travel in the front section of the train, and preferably the front carriage as it is where the step down is at its shortest.

Sometimes there isn’t a lot of time between when they announce the platform that the Charing Cross train is leaving from and the time that it actually leaves. I only have minutes to get through the barrier, all the way down at least half of the train’s length, into a seat and settled before it starts up. A few times I haven’t had enough time and have been pitched backward when the train starts up.

So, this low platform causes problems at both ends of my journeys.

Margaret Gibb:

May 12, 2013 at 09:21 PM

I was born in 1949 and contracted Polio in 1950 as a result of which I have left sided paralysis and wear a bulky calliper on one leg.I find it almost impossible to climb stairs and unfortunately most railway stations have stairs,whilst most large stations have lifts or escalators a lot of the smaller ones do not.I am unable to use my local train station as although it has access for disabled people at the south side it does not have on the north side! I was therefore enraged recently to discover over £5 million pounds is being spent on renovating waiting rooms,car parks. and cyclers facilities but not on making stations accessible to all! Surely in 2013 the most important thing is making it possible for disabled people to access trains especially in light of the governments determination to get people with disabilities into work.

Little did I know when I was a teenager in 1963 that fifty years later I would still not be able to go on a train whenever I wanted or needed to!

kaye long:

May 12, 2013 at 06:29 PM

Trains are still proving a problem. The meet with assistance varies dependent on the station and train service despite booking the requests in advance. Although I have to say Temple Meads my local station is accessible. On a few occasions passengers have helped me off the train & I have had to travel to a station beyond my destination & come back to have the availability of lifts etc rather than a bridge with steps to get to my platform, this really isn’t acceptable.

Alan Tinnuche:

May 12, 2013 at 01:30 PM

In the Fishguard area Pembrokeshire it’s not an easy task to get a Taxi that can take a wheelchair.There is a locally run service called the “Town Rider” that you need to pre-order a vehicle but it has a limited mileage. Without my Mobility vehicle I would find it hard to get around the county and beyond.

Clarke Hughes:

May 12, 2013 at 10:13 AM

whilst staff at train stations etc are very helpful, the faxt that wheelchair users have to give 24/48 hours notice to travel by train is frankly unacceptable, i have been refused travel before as not enough notice is given, surely it cannot be that difficult to arrange a system that means wheelchair users can be as spontaneous as everyone else ?

Margaret Baron:

May 11, 2013 at 05:20 PM

I am not a wheelchair user but use a walker and the drivers of First Cymru bus company. do not lower the ramp, and if buggies are on they don’t ask them to be folded. i live in a rural area and the buses run hourly so if you can’t get on you have to wait for the next, one day i had to wait for three buses before i could start my journey.

Trains are run by Ariva though you phone and book assistance travel very often they won’t put the ramp down but try to lift you up! the reason they have 2 minutes to get people on train and if put ramp down it would make them late. Some stations are better than others but Swansea is bad they do not want to help and do it grudgingly. I think disabled travel is not going to change as the attitude of the company and staff are not willing to make the change.

David Seligman:

May 11, 2013 at 12:19 AM

I live in London and travel independently in a wheelchair. All buses in London have ramps, but the wheelchair spaces on the buses are often occupied by mothers with baby buggies. the ramps fail to work on approximately 1 journey in 10. Most of the London Underground is not accessible to wheelchair users. This makes little sense as most of the equally old national rail system is. Yesterday travelling on 3 buses from South Kensington to Richmond (7 miles) took almost 2 hours. Had I been able to use the Underground it would have taken 20 minutes.

Outside London buses increasingly have ramps but trying to get this information in advance is extremely difficult. Most people who answer the phones at bus companies do not understand the difference between a bus that is simply low floor and one that has a wheelchair ramp as well. Traveline the national transport information service which is supposed to use wheelchair symbols where appropriate on its timetable information is woefully out of date. They are simply not gathering the information properly from councils and bus companies. Apart from Transport for London, only Stagecoach of the big bus companies shows clearly whether its buses are wheelchair accessible on all timetable information.

Dawn Mckenna:

May 10, 2013 at 09:15 PM

Not very. Often bus stops are awkwardly situated and difficult to get to, bus and train staff are often completely misinformed and downright bigoted, I’ve had a number treat me like an object. There’s also problems with other pedestrians especially people with buggies who seem to think both bays on our buses were made for only them and thus they should not have to fold their buggy ever. I often have to wait as up to three buses go past because nobody will fold a buggy or they will not move from the wheelchair bay and sit elsewhere. Taxi’s are especially awful, apart from black cabs since most carry the required ramp, getting my wheelchair into a regular private hire car can be a right pain, that’s if they even send one that can take it despite being told I have one.

In general education and information being widely available would help. Also getting buggy makers to reduce the ridiculous sizes of buggies/pram, the especially large vanity ones do not fold, may overlap to the point of taking up so much of the bus buggy bay that carrying a wheelchair as well is not going to happen. Why does a child one eighth of my size require a transport item that doesn’t collapse, is twice the size of my manual chair and a third again larger than my mobility scooter which can be collapsed? It’s ridiculous.

Donna Wicks:

May 10, 2013 at 08:11 PM

I travel a lot on trains as part of my work and I always end up struggling with the walk from the Platform up to the taxi rank at Paddington. Since the original rank was closed off for whatever redevelopment reason it has increased the difficulties I have. Most of the taxis are ok to use but the taxi drivers aren’t always helpful.

Heidi Miner:

May 10, 2013 at 07:25 PM

I was on crutches for 4 weeks and had to travel in and out of central London daily from zone 3. The tube is very difficult to use with crutches. A lot of stations have no lifts and some of the staircases as so narrow people almost knock you over. Also, people do not stand up to let you sit. After I was off the crutches I still was not able to stand for the entire journey home. I had to ask people every time if I could sit down as all the seats are always taken. It would help if there was a universal “I need a seat” badge people could wear—similar to the Baby on Board pregnant people wear. Some disabilities are not obvious—I have ME and on a bad day I am not able to stand, yet it is difficult to always ask for a seat as people want explanations that you’re really disabled.

Anant M Vyas:

May 10, 2013 at 06:48 PM

I am sending a longer trail of e-mails regarding the National Disgrace Coaches in which the temperatures, toilets and time-keeping is unacceptable

Jon Hastie:

May 10, 2013 at 06:38 PM

I’m a wheelchair user. Brighton buses are great, very spacious, but theres no form of restraints for wheelchairs. I don’t have strength to hold on and find myself getting bumped around a lot. Same on trains when they pick up speed, it doesnt feel safe.

Taxis, most “wheelchair accessible vehicles” used as taxis don’t accommodate a powered wheelchair adequately, there’s not enough headroom, theres no room to turn round so you have to face sideways, and ramps are very steep. New rear loading vehicles are much more suitable but there are very few around. The restricted growth policy in Brighton doesn’t help!

Taxi drivers often lack training and dont secure your wheelchair unless asked. They often lack awareness of invisible disability.

kirsty-ann hughes:

May 10, 2013 at 05:39 PM

Where I live there are a few inaccessible buses. Also the buses that are fitted with ramps, there are a few drivers who don’t lower then which makes getting on the bus hard. Trains are ok if you book in advance or there is an attendant at the station to help with a ramp. On a few buses the wheelchair space is only big enough for 1 wheelchair so if someone is using it then you have to wait for the next bus. I now wont use public transport.

Steve Edge:

May 10, 2013 at 04:52 PM

Wheelchair is “too big” so cannot travel on buses or trains (companies have told us in writing). The wheelchair is 7cm “too long”. The current maximum dimensions are too restrictive, esp in the length dimension, and are based on a very poor and very limited research which did not take account of ALL wheelchair users. It was better when there were NO maximum dimensions—at least the trains would take us. Now they won’t. Thus we are left with no access to public transport, despite the headlines. Please, please do something. Please consult with ALL wheelchair users.

Ann Page:

May 10, 2013 at 04:47 PM

I live in a village Rowlands Castle)which has a train station that is 100m from my house on the Main waterloo line, but it has no wheelchair access onto trains, and steep bridge for walkers. There is one bus an hour when it chooses to run, but it is not accessible by wheelchairs at all. There is no taxi service.

This means you have to have a vehicle and someone to drive it, or hire a taxi from the nearest town.

In this day and age and equal opportunities it is appalling.

I have used the train to London from Havant, but had to give them 3 weeks notice that I wanted to travel as I am in a wheelchair. No other users have to do this, so why wheelchair users. All the staff on the train and at the stations were really lovely, helpful and polite, they could not have been better. Its such a shame public transport is not open to everyone, because I would love to use it.

P Cassidy:

May 10, 2013 at 03:20 PM

Extremely poor. Cardiff Bus is pretty good but unfortunately the public ie young persons 15 to 25years of age—able bodied choose to sit in the seats for Disabled Persons/Elderly. They also will not move when asked.

Beth rosewell:

May 10, 2013 at 03:07 PM

We live in the Wirral, i am a mum to 6 children , 2 of whom are in a wheel chair.

As it it very difficult to fit two wheelchairs onto a bus we are left with useing the train.

We can not park at many stations in the wirral as they all have height restriction barriors , no good or people in a wheelchair acsessable vehicals which are always higher than the barriors!

In liverpool there has geen some major referbishment of the train stations, except the did not address the lift issue, in the main stations ( lime street and central and james street) it is impossible to fit more than one wheelchar and one person in the lifts, so what do i do with the rest of the children? Leave them on the platform unatended, take one child up in her chair, come back down to get the other child whilst leaving the first child upstairs!?? The lifts are always full and normally we have to wait about 30 mins.

This situation has stopped our family and i would think many wheelchair users from going to liverpool because of the apauling acsess in the stations .

We would happily let you use our family to demonstrate the problems with physical acsess to the stations!

Andy Murtha:

May 10, 2013 at 03:04 PM

My biggest problem is not physical access for buses it is the fact that even though buses have wheelchair spaces the rules do not make it mandatory to clear this area for wheelchairs. I have been left waiting for the next bus due to people storing shopping baskets in that area. Postmen leaving there push trolley post bags there and the obvious one pushchairs that could be collapsed


May 10, 2013 at 02:55 PM

Most buses in Norwich and Norfolk are completely inaccessible to me as a wheelchair user. I have a medium size wheelchair and I can only just get on the buses if and when the driver sees fit to put the ramp down for me my wheelchair was privately funded but I have been told by the hospital that if I ever got one from them the chair would be wider an this would make traveling by bus impossible yes I can get though the doors and the turning circle to get in to the wheelchair space is to small.

Annie Bishop:

May 10, 2013 at 02:07 PM

I live in a rural area half a mile away from the nearest bus stop, the bus station is not near the train station and I can’t walk that far, bus service is irregular and not conducive to work, the local transport charity Adapt provides a weekly bus to the nearest town which is well used. Without my motability car, I couldn’t work, see my GP, Consultant, shop. I would be totally isolated.Taxis are too expensive.I can’t use my scooter on the train.

Peter Lockhart:

May 10, 2013 at 01:39 PM

Access is very patchy. In Fife many buses are still old type that have no access for wheelchairs and can be difficult for ambulant disabled with mobility issues. I use the bus regularly to go round my ward, to go to meetings and to visit the council buildings around the region. One of the issues are with express buses where wheelchair people are asked to book 24 hours in advance before travelling. This places severe limitations on disabled people. I can be called to meetings anytime, I never know how long meetings will last and so this means its impossible for me to be able to book 24 hours in advance. This means I have no quick access around the region. For instances if I use the express bus to get from my Cowdenbeath ward to the council buildings in Glenrothes it will take 15 minutes. However if I take the local bus then it takes 45 minutes. Fortunately the local bus should always be accessible because it is a Fife Council subsidised route. However going to other towns causes great problems. Buses frequently are old style. I have missed many meetings because I have not been able to access a bus. Worse, the buses at peak hours in the morning when workers are going to work and peak hours in the evening when they are coming home are not accessible. This makes it difficult for disabled people to access jobs. I often have to take buses to different towns changing buses because its impossible to travel direct due to access issues.

Emma Round:

May 10, 2013 at 01:36 PM

I am a wheelchair user living in Birmingham. I don’t drive, nor does my partner so we are dependant on public transport. I struggle a lot with accessing local buses for the following reasons:

Wheelchair & pushchair policy—There are a lot of parents with pushchairs who use the local buses and for basic health and saftey reasons the bus company has decided to limit the amount of unfolded pushchairs to 2 per bus, or one wheelchair and one unfolded pushchair. It’s the drivers job to request that if a wheelchair user wants to get on the bus that pushchairs fold. there are also signs asking that people fold buggies in the event of a wheelchair user needing to use the space. In 3 years of catching buses 4–6 times a week only one pushchair has ever folded down to make room for me and less than 15 drivers have actually done their jobs and asked people to fold the chairs. Instead I get left in the cold & rain, often whilst 2 or more buses refuse to let me on because there isn’t room.

Drivers just driving past because they are late & it’ll take too long to lower the ramps.

Drivers refusing to put ramps down.

Bus companies refusing to address these issues in a meaningful way.

Most of the smaller services are still not wheelchair accessible (18 years after the DDA 1995!).

One driver told me I would need a permit to take my wheelchair on First buses in the future.

Lots of pavements by bus stops still don’t have lowered kerbs so they are inaccessible.

These attitudes create both mental & physical barriers to equality of access.


Is useless if you need level access onto a train so your wheelchair castors don’t get stuck in the gap. Staff are always rude & unhelpful which makes me feel like I’m stupid for asking if they have a system to allow for access.

There is a lack of wheelchair spaces if you are lucky enough to get on.

London Buses

Have great access, but the same is not true of the rest of the country.


The staff at Birmingham New Street are some of the best I have met when dealing with access issues. I can’t praise them enough. They are always polite, have a great understanding of disability & make sure that you can access everything.

Trains scare me because of the amount of times having pre-booked ramps I get left on board (especially at Euston). It creates a mental barrier to access.


Many disabled people need extra leg room, but disabled people are either banned from sitting in extra leg room seats because they are near exits or charged extra money for the “luxury”. It makes travelling very painful.

BA staff at Heathrow have always been great in the terminal, they haven’t ever treated me like a burden. Monarch and Flybe on the other hand have been less impressive.

All of this adds up and creates the feeling that if you want to use public transport with a wheelchair you had better be ready to be treated like a second class citizen. There will be areas of great service occasionally, but they are few and far between. To improve access companies need to go out of there way to do more than just give new staff a 5 min one off talk on disability to ensure disabled people are treated with dignity.

Mark Barber:

May 10, 2013 at 01:28 PM

As a wheelchair user I get a very mixed experience of using public transport. When Aviva was the local bus operator they made no effort to put accessible busses on my routes, all complaints to them were answered with “we are not legally obliged to provide accessible vehicles currently” this constantly left me stranded and having to source accessible taxi’s at a high cost to me. Now stagecoach are operation the routes the service is much improved but I still had to watch 4 buses drive past recently as they had no ramp access. On the train a recent trip from wigan to liverpool was short for space on the train byt the staff were great in getting me on and off with the use of ramps

Trisha Jackson:

May 10, 2013 at 01:16 PM

I would just like to say regarding Physical accessibility my local buses here are run by First Bus and the physial accessibilty is an absolute disgrace I do not think the company or the drivers on the First Bus Buses have heard of the Equality Act or the provisions of it. It is just everyone for themselves getting on and off the buses. I know the drivers are responsible for a lot but they do not seen to register what a stuggle it is for people that use walking sticks, frames, crutches. Getting on the bus is difficult because they do not always lower the ramp to get on the bus, in the morning or evening when you get on the bus to sit on the disabled seats at the front bus staff are in those seats, other passengers are very often in them ignoring the notices to give up their seats for anyone getting on the bus who are disabled. The biggest problem are inconsiderate people with prams and buggies who think they have a divine right to use the big space at the front of the buses, part of this space is supposed to be kept free in case somebody got on the bus who is in a wheelchair, but very often what happens most is the space is occupied by two prams or two buggies and some people have even wheeled a third pram or buggy on and are just there then blocking the aisle where people are supposed to be able to get on and off the bus in safety. What makes me very angry is that the bus driver does not stop them and tell the people that they have to get off as they are not supposed to have people blocking the aisle. In the past people with prams and buggies would have had to put their buggies and prams down and put them in the luggage rack and this is what they should be made to do now.

Also I get on the bus with a shopping trolley, only because I am disabled with Multiple Sclerosis and I walk with a walking stick and I cannot lift anything but this makes for a difficult time from other passengers and the driver, this attitude by bus staff is unacceptable also it is becoming common place that when it is time to get off the buses in Bristol, instead of waiting for people to get off the bus people are trying to push past the people trying to get off the bus causing more more problems and a potential for injury to the passenger trying to get off the bus, but instead of the bus driver saying to the people not waiting for the people to get off the bus and trying to get on the bus while people are trying to get off the bus, the bus drivers are saying nothing when they should be telling these people not to push their way onto the bus and to have patience and wait for the people to get off the bus.

Andy McCabe:

May 10, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Really I have two comments.

I’ve found the busses in london to be fantastic for wheelchair access.

However, the trains and underground are awful (as is the customer service I have received on several occasions).

To access a train I have to phone at least 24 hours in advance so there is someone on the platform to get a ramp. This means it is impossible to make spur of the moment journeys or travel by train if there is an emergency. Surely this could be solved by doing what the london busses do, and have the ramp built in to the train, so it either folds out simply, or electronically deploys itself. The fact the it is impossible to make journeys without alerting someone 24 hours in advance is extremely frustrating. Not only this but when you do give them notice it is down to luck whether someone will actually be there to help. Surely this is discriminatory (in that an able bodied passenger does not have to give notice of travel). In closing I would ask why has the bus system for ramps not been employed, and are there any plans for this in the future

Alex Squire:

May 10, 2013 at 12:47 PM

I am a full-time powerchair user and I have used trains and buses both in London and Leicester. I am at University in Leicester and I use the buses every day to travel to university. I have had a number of problems with using the buses in Leicester, mostly to do with the ramp. The University uses Bendy buses which have an electric ramp which come out the middle of the bus. The driver has to press a button in the cab to make the ramp come out. however on numerous occasions the ramp does not work, or it gets stuck once it’s come out and I have had to wait on the bus until it is fixed. Sometimes the drivers do not even know how to use the ramp, probably because of poor training.

I don’t have problems with double-decker buses have they have a ramp which can be manually deployed by hand, or in most cases the ramp does not even need to be used as there are raised curbs at bus stops and the bus parks right next to it. So therefore I can just drive straight on, which is useful. I cannot do this with the bendy buses as they are too high and too far from the curb.

I have travelled to London on a number of occasions by train. Travelling on the train from Leicester to St Pancras is not a problem, as long as there is not more than wheelchair or pushchair in the same place. There is usually only space for one chair, and it would be helpful if there was more space. Travelling on the underground is more difficult as platforms are usually not level with the train and ramps are not always available. In the past I have had to rely on the help of fellow passengers to lift my chair onto the train over the gap, which is dangerous. At Hounslow the platform is lower than the train and my chair tipped forward and got stuck in the gap between the train and the platform. Again a fellow passenger who happened to be passing by helped to lift me out. All platforms need to be level with the train so that ramps do not need to be used and the wheelchair can just drive straight on.

stefan pickering:

May 10, 2013 at 12:18 PM

access to buses is usually ok but drivers have a habit of being impatient when it comes to either getting on or off at speed.

trains are a joke. im unsteady on my feet and when it comes to train travel. I have to ring for assistance 24hrs prior to travel. then if somebody turns up I have to be supported on or off the train. that’s if somebody is available to meet me at the end of my destination. why cant there be a standard grab handle next to the doors on all trains. instead of only on some. surely this would save time.

Travel Information

Mark Smith:

June 05, 2013 at 04:56 PM

I use the national telephone travel line for East Anglia when I need to know the times of buses, or use unfamiliar bus routes, and this works well.

The local County Council have also kindly supplied the SMS text number for regular bus stops I use in Norwich and with the speech software on my mobile phone I can send a text message to find out when the next bus is due.

Bill Norman:

June 04, 2013 at 01:40 PM

Excellent easy read information for people with learning disabilities about travelling safe from Nexus developed with a local group

Use of Bridge Card throughout Tyne and Wear still well regarded some five years after introduction though how its is used in conjunction with card readers still needs to be resolved

Understanding of need of accessible information

Lack of a full involvement of a range of people with particular travel needs has been characteristic of the current Newcastle Central Station Redevelopment

Poor real time updating of information and often confusingly out of sync eg audible announcements may be more up to date than visual displays at Metro stations

Metro trains still have issues re audible announcements for stations on the trains themselves—when they are

No Smartphone apps developed locally yet

Very few talking bus stops

AV announcements limited to three bus routes that we are aware of at the moment. We understand one operator is introducing these as buses are replaced.

All stakeholders need to be made aware of the precedence of wheelchair users over buggies spaces and there needs to be clearer sanctions for compliance—either as company policies or within the scope of the Equalities Act

David Froggat:

June 04, 2013 at 11:37 AM

On board recorded information none-existent in my home area. Such information would give me greater confidence and obviate the necessity of asking the driver.

Chris Odell:

June 04, 2013 at 11:34 AM

audio on buses is essential. It helps a GDO to navigate their journey. Buses that currently have audio, the audio is often turned off as drivers complain it gets on their nerves. Drivers won’t tell a GDO when their stop is coming up meaning that GDO miss their stop. I have been assured by a driver of my stop, only to find he had put me off at the wrong stop which left me confused and lost.

Drivers need disability awareness traing and buses need audio if GDO are going to be independent.


June 03, 2013 at 02:55 PM

My experience of accessing travel information before bording the bus is poor. I use screen reading computer software and usually bus operators web sites are inaccessible and sites like Traveline Scotland are little better. On board while some buses now have visual screens indicating the next stop these are not audible and as such I am unable to access the information. In many other countries and finally in London, equipment has been installed which provides both a visual and audible alert to passengers of the next stop and destination. Legislation similar to that requiring rail operators to provide visual and audible information should be introduced that applies to bus providers. Rail information is much better but timetable information is now becoming increasingly inaccessible to screen reading software. This means that I am forced to use National Rail Enquiries automated phone line which costs at least ten pence per minute when others are able to access the same information for free.

Vikki Thomson:

June 03, 2013 at 02:37 PM

I think that having AV announcements on buses is a good idea in the event that the driver forgets to shout out a VI person’s stop or the VI person doesn’t hear the driver. The Service 10 to Western Harbour in Edinburgh. The voice is very clear and at a good volume. It would certainly put less stress on the driver and hopefully make reclusive VI people with no confidence use them. I know a lot of VI people who use trains instead of buses for this very reason.

Tony Averis:

June 03, 2013 at 02:33 PM

Improvements to consider would be:

To have Real Time Information (RTI) in major Bus Stations that is compatible with the RNIB key fob activator.

All bus stops that have RTI should have audio announcements of timetable information.

Buses should be cleaned of debris often to avoid Guide Dogs being over interested in dropped food etc.

• All buses should have Audio\Video announcements—this will avoid the reliance on the good will (and memory) of the bus driver to tell me when I need to alight at my required stop.

With the introduction of the National Bus enquiry phone number, it is now a costly experience to access timetable information etc. Someone with a visual impairment is now disadvantaged by not being able to access printed timetables. Having to use an 087 prefixed number by mobile is out of the financial scope of many. Solution:

1.Either return to a local number or

2.To set up an accessible number that registered blind and partially sighted people can access this service. This can be set up for visually impaired and print disabled people to provide a prescribed code, such as that provided by telephone directory enquiries (195).

There are now a number of mobile applications available to get such information, but many at present are unable to access these because of affordability and the lack of support on how to use technology at this level. Apple and Android devices cost hundreds of pounds which is a barrier itself, but one may feel wary of it’s protracted use in public in fear (or perceived fear) of being targeted, especially if that person is visually impaired (cane user or assistance dog user). Having the opportunity to make a simple short call will alleviate this fear as this can be made in a safer environment than that of being in a public open space, such as waiting at a bus stop.

Stephanie Sergeant:

June 03, 2013 at 02:24 PM

I train visually impaired and blind people to use technology all over the country. I am blind myself, and rely on public transport a great deal.

The audio description of bus stops that the London busses have, make them far safer and easier to use. I have an Android phone with an App called Georgie which gives me this information. On completion of one bus journey that involved 3 busses, I arrived so unstressed, that I thought, “what extra work can I take on, now I have this greater capacity.”

This is the kind of difference audio information on busses would make to blind people. I think it is essential. This would reduce the welfare bill, as it would enable more blind people to work, Or at least give us a level playing field.

On several occasions in the past I have gone past the stop I needed to get off at. Its incredibly frightening to be landed in an area you do not know, when you cannot read the sign posts, and have no idea how to retrace the route to your required destination.

Steve Norris:

June 03, 2013 at 02:19 PM

As a blind guide dog owner I find it impossible to travel on buses as they are at the moment due to the fact that I do not know where I am on a bus journey.

To have a system where stops are annonced would provide me with complete confidence whilst traveling on a bus.

To have this confidence means I would travel more times and greater distances than I do at present.

I do travel on a bus only when there is somebody able to travel with me.

Joy Stone:

June 03, 2013 at 02:13 PM

I am so glad of the opportunity to put my views on the subject above.

I am 85, partially sighted with a Guide dog. I like to be totally independent and can only be so by being able to use public transport, ie buses.

It would be so helpful if the stops coming up were announced, it would give one so much more confidence. In the past I have requested of the driver to call out my stop on approaching but although kindly has forgotten to do so, meaning that I have had to walk back to my stop.

Please make living more independently, possible for blind and partially sighted people.

Bryan Rigg:

June 03, 2013 at 02:09 PM

I am writing in support of the Guide Dogs request for improved facillities for people like myself. I am totally blind and although I have had guide dogs for some 27 years, I do not use buses as I find journeys on them to be too harrowing with the uncertainty of not knowing where I am and the time when they are due.

Audible announcements on buses and at bus stops would make a tremendous difference and make my journeys both for pleasure and also for essentials more relaxed.

I also think that structured information to drivers on how to deal with blind and partially sighted travellers would be very helpful as in common with many other members of the public they are often unaware of the problems which arise and especially with everyone being in such a rush these days not giving enough time for us to negotiate the hazards.

I have been married to a Cockney for over 55 years and even In our courting days I found travelling conditions in The South superior to those in the North and benifitted when London Transport introduced the audible service some time after getting married on it’s Underground being able to find my way to a totally strange destination unaided.

I can assure you that I am not “bitter and twisted” but notice that the North is often left behind the South on issues like this!

Ian Snowdon:

June 03, 2013 at 02:02 PM

My main issue with travel information is that it doesn’t exist on buses.

It seems to me that Audio/Visual information telling customers of the route, destination and the next stop would be of great benefit to all users, not only Visually Impaired people but also tourists.


June 03, 2013 at 11:36 AM

I now only use Apps or the internet to plan a jopurney since travel information is so bad. Otherwise would waste endless time in queues to ask someone (and only then if you can actually find someone to ask).

I have also found bus driver’s English poor, do not speak clearly enough so I can hear or understand them,do not know the stops on their route (thus can not tell me if I am getting on the right bus).

Gillian Seward:

June 03, 2013 at 09:10 AM

Awareness of problems with sight vary from driver to driver, despite disability being obvious. Mechanical signals such as those used on London’s Underground would be very helpful for both sight and hearing problems. Timetables, etc are impossible to read

City equals:

June 03, 2013 at 08:45 AM

We found that travel infromation are confusion and printed to small to read.So poeple with Learn diffculites and disabilities and eye site problems find this diffcult to read leaflet and some of the word can be confusion too.

Robert Latham:

June 02, 2013 at 06:20 PM

There is no accessible information at bus stops, bus stations, or when on a bus. This is compounded by very patchy driver support for me as a VI passenger. It seems that since the introduction of satnav systems, drivers in Tyne and Wear do not have to know their bus routes. This means if I actually can flag down a bus, the bus driver sometimes cannot tell me if he is going past my destination. On a few occasions passengers already on the bus have shouted to me that the bus does or does not go to my destination. The fact that I need a sighted guide to use my local bus services is further compounded by me not being entitled to a companion card concession pass. I would really like to use my local bus service more than I do because it would allow both myself and my guide dog to walk longer distances, thus helping both of us to exercise. I visit Stockholm twice a year and am very impressed by the accessibility of the information, buses and how these services are integrated as part of a wider public transport system. I was surprised to find out that Stockholm’s public transport system is entirely run by private companies. This means it must make a profit!!

Steve Wilkinson:

June 02, 2013 at 11:51 AM

I’d like to see bus stops have displays that indicate if the next bus is Easy Access and if the wheelchair space is free and not occupied by another wheelchair user. Surely, technology on buses or simply just communication to head office from the driver could advise if the space is free.

Dr Mike Casselden:

June 01, 2013 at 05:47 PM

Seemingly there is a marked difference between difference places and regions. In the North-East where I live the availability of information about bus times is a lottery. The bus stop at the end of our street describes itself in High Street Gosforth, although it is actually Salter’s Road which, at this point, is about 200 metres away. A few years ago, the bus times never seemed to coincide with bus arrivals and it took ages before I worked out that the information related to a bus stop near the former Woolworth’s at the other end of the High Street! In consequence I always missed the bus—I had to add 5 minutes on to my journey, thus ignoring the published information. Now, that seems to have resolved itself with more accurate timetable information, although invariably buses are late or, equally frustrating, somewhat earlier, the latter, I guess, due to pressure from the companies on drivers who get delayed when they reach more congested parts of the routes in the City. This can be annoying when one waits early morning in the cold for a bus to the hospital that either is late, goes early, or doesn’t run. The answer, of course is a system like the brilliant one in Nottingham where bus stops have electronic information about bus times and “real time” arrivals. If only the NE had this kind of information system, but then seemingly we are still considered to be in the dark ages by the powers that be. Oh, another problem. Our bus stop is orientated so that the timetable panel faces inwards across the footpath so that in the evening when it is dark, the bright street light on the main road opposite places the panel in dark shadow so that it cannot be read unless one has a torch!! I raised this with NEXUS suggesting they turned the panel so that it was sideways on, catching light from the street lamp. They refused because they said there was insufficient room between it and the kerb, which is a total nonsense given the narrow width of the panel and more than adequate room between the bus stop and the kerb, somewhere in the region of 18 inches. What we need is a national set of guidelines which maximise the availability of up to date and accessible information for travellers at bus stops which includes effective electronic “real-time” panels and sensible, accessible and well lit timetable panels.


May 31, 2013 at 04:28 PM

I am autistic with learning difficulties so technology is mostly utterly useless to me as it is too hard to use. But no-on cares.

Southern Rail are useless. They rely to much on technology and people using the internet and smart phones and expect me to know things I don’t and get angry with me when I don’t understand. They seem to think that if you are not intellectually capable of accessing technology, you deserve bad things to happen to you.

I also find announcements are too loud and distorted (I have severe autistic hyperacusis and loud noises cause excruciating pain) and they do nothing about this whereas they DO make provision for other disabilities, but they just ignore autism and make out autistics are just fussy and annoying.

I struggle to read information on monitors as I have visual processing issues relating to autism and the loud announcements just cause me excruciating pain and I can’t understand them as they hurt too much, but the staff don’t care.

If I ask a member of staff something that is displayed on a screen or something that has already been announced, they just have a go at me.

I find timetables impossible to read as they are not available in Easy Read format. I don‘t understand them at all and if I ask staff for help, they have a go at me.

The screens that buses have telling you in how may minutes there will be a bus are good, and there should be more like that.

When there are delays or cancellations, staff rely on announcements and these are no good to me as they just hurt me and if you ask staff to tell you what the announcement said, they just have a go at you or tell you that it’s your fault for not listening.

Often, the visual information systems displays are turned off or broken so the only form of information is announcements which are of no use to me.

Travelling is hell if you’re autistic and the staff are abusive and members of the public bully you.

Jonathan Mears:

May 31, 2013 at 02:51 PM

General publice transport information concerning routes, timetables and calling points were usually good, they are readible and are made available at travel shops, bus stops and stations. Delays and fare information are not available on bus services which I believe is a necessity. The buses in my area are often late and sometimes I have waited for a bus that has not turned up at all.

Self Advocacy Youth (SAY) Group, at Connect Advocacy, Gosport Hampshire:

May 31, 2013 at 12:13 PM

If you can read it’s easier but some of us don’t read very well but we know our numbers. The bus routes get changed and we don’t know about this. It’s worse when the bus numbers change—number 85 became 11. We can get easily confused by change. Information at bus stops varies—at some stops there is clear information on a screen that tells you when a bus is due or delayed. There are not many members of staff at bus stations to ask—they hide in their offices. There are some nice bus drivers who are happy to answer our questions about bus routes but they forget to tell us when we have reached the stop—the voice on the bus that tells us we are near a bus stop is really helpful to us.

It would be a good idea to have more pictures to accompany words at airports. Often there is not enough time to get to a gate, particularly if you rely on reading a board and then have to walk to a distant gate at Gatwick Airport. It is hard to understand announcements at train stations and airports.

We don’t usually go online for information so miss out on cheaper fares and information about delays and cancellations. None of the group have used the accessible transport website because we don’t use computers to read information like that—it is not accessible to us. Our carers can use it for us but we don’t always have support when we want/need it.

Bournemouth People First (speaking up group fir people with learning disabilities):

May 31, 2013 at 09:22 AM

We like the electronic dispalys, they are clear but they don’t always work. Maybe have a speaking version on buses like they do on trains and tubes.

Ellen Gospel:

May 30, 2013 at 09:45 PM

I found the Transport direct website inaccessible for those with a visual impairment.

For example, there is no inbuilt facility to enlarge the text, or change the colour contrast and it is difficult to use with text to speech software.

The idea of having information on various forms of transport on one page is great and the use of images is a good idea in theory, particularly for those with a learning need. However, again I found the images inaccessible for those with a visual loss. Perhaps the search box could be highlighted/bordered more to help identification?

I notice under the “Accessibility” section at the very bottom there is some “tips” on how the user can improve the accessibility of the website. I am glad to see this has been marginally considered. However, this relies on the user being able to navigate down to the accessibility link in the first place.

The advice on there is quite vague particularly:

“You may wish to improve the readability of the pages by changing your browser settings.

For example:

increase the browser font size

switch off images

change the background and text colours’

This presumes the user knows how to change their settings. These accessibility factors can be built into a web site rather than the user having to do the leg work and should we not be moving to a world of inclusive design?

Robert Potter:

May 30, 2013 at 07:04 PM

I am registered blind so cannot access electronic information boards at stations, airports, bus depots etc. I need to rely on “awareness trained” staff and that is currently very variable ( however east coast rail staff are excellent). For planning travel I use the telephone and that works out quite well.

Cynthia Easeman:

May 30, 2013 at 07:01 PM

I have tried the transport direct web site to try and plan a journey to say a London attraction being able to access the underground with my guide dog but gave up as it was too difficult

I use my I-phone and I-pad so with some good software app. Could use these to help me get around, with training.

To ensure everybody has access to this then organisations like Guide Dogs and RNIB need to be able to let people know this is available and give training if needed.

Bus time tables are not accessible to blind or VIP as they are not talking ones, please do not also assume all blind people read Braille this is not so. Mostly those born blind have training from young but many people loose their sight in adult life and never get the chance to learn Braille.

Chris Dugdale:

May 30, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Poor audio information for visually impaired pasengers on buses and at airports much better on trains. At Airports often unclear announcements, nothing on buses

Henry Sherlock:

May 30, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Information regarding most travel modes is never in the format required by the visually impaired person. Most enquiries made to operators usually end up with “travel information is available on line”. However, this can prove difficult if not impossible to access. visually impaired people always have to rely on others in order to access any of the information put out there. The buses themselves issue flyers to inform passengers of any changes. Unfortunately, they seem to forget those who have disabilities. Again this is in breach of the Equality. No reasonable adjustment has been made regarding communications in alternative formats. My buses have had it’s times changed and routes changed and all sorts of things happening to it. This only results in total confusion. I am still trying to remember the time table, even though it has been read to me hundreds of times. The reason? Because there is not set time. Sometimes it is five pst the hour and at other times it has changed. There seems to be no logical time scheduling. Maybe that is to avoid getting a fine for not being on time.

There are many disabled routes communications could go through. In Falkirk we have a sensory centre. Maybe the council and bus operators could make use of the centre to inform people of changes and other communications.

Maybe better still, employ disabled people to train staff and how to address these short comings.

Chris Taylor:

May 30, 2013 at 09:41 AM

Travel information such as timetables are a complete nightmare, I am partially sighted now heading towards registration as blind. I travel by bus on a daily basis. Timetable information on bus stops is often in far too small print and placed where it cannot be accessed easily either behind where people sit or simply too high up so it becomes unreadable. Electronic displays showing realtime information are often placed just below the top of bus shelters or high up on bus stops, this information is then inaccessable to visually impaired people, often because of the positioning you are looking direct into a bright sky or even the sun! How are you meant to read these displays????? The web is often a better alternative, however if you are traveling in an unfamilar area this often is not the solution.

Paul Smith:

May 29, 2013 at 09:13 PM

At bus stops and stations I cannot read transport information as I am blind. Often you cannot hear announcements if there are any.Websites are not easily accessible and you have to be a good user of assistive technology.

As bus companies in the Northeast now insist on using swipe cards for the disabled as a blind person this is difficult as I cannot see the machine and often the drivers are rude and state that the machine is there but I am standing with my Guide Dog and they do not seem to appreciate that I cannot see the machine and there could be anywhere.

Susan Jones:

May 29, 2013 at 07:52 PM

As a visually impaired person I find most forms of information inaccessible, although there is a telephone line for public transport and I do use that for timetable types of information. This line does not give me information about layout of a station, where bus stops are. again there are apps you can get for smart phones but not everyone has or can use these. I live in Newcastle and my favourite form of transport is the Tyne & wear Metro, it is easy to use but the biggest plus to me is the Audio/Visual system they have put on their new trains and their customer service Advisors who work with the public have been trained in Vision awareness and what a difference to a passenger experience that makes. Using buses can be a nightmare when moving outside of your own familiar area, routes are so long and complicated it is impossible to memorisewhere you are going. Audio/visual systems are a must on all public transport I think, it would be such a help to everyone not just disabled people. Taxis can vary from company to company and as a Guide dog owner I have had issues with some drivers refusing to take the dog, since the 2010 Equality Act. It’s amazing how many people now are allergic to dogs!!! Airports I would find impossible to move around without the assistance of the ground staff when traveling on my own as there is no way of knowing where I am. again if it wasn’t for a mobile app. access to information is virtually nil, in this day and age I cannot understand why there cannot be an audible information point. In Newcastle there is a system called I think “React” it is a fob you wear around your neck and as you walk around the city at certain points it will read outwhere you are , could a similar system not be used in airports. They could be issued at the check-in desk on requst and handed in at the boarding lounge this would be very helpful to partially sighted people.

Access in Dudley:

May 29, 2013 at 05:30 PM

It is often difficult and complicated for disabled people particularly people with learning difficulties and visually impaired people to access travel information.

Not all bus stops are currently operable by using the talking keyfob system which makes it hard for visually impaired people to access travel information.

Also splitting and renumbering bus routes is extremely confusing for both visually impaired people and people with learning difficultives (many have received extensive travel training which is negated when the system changes).

sylvia smith:

May 29, 2013 at 03:02 PM

finding info is extremely hard, not all info is at the travel shop, ofyen buses go from different stands and others can see this info, so they can move but i often get stuck waitin for a bus that never comes

Peter Towers:

May 29, 2013 at 02:47 PM

There is no delay information provided in Arriva North East rural areas, there is no information provided if busses break down, or have technical faults causing delays, there are no guaranteed connections between services, so that if one bus is late, delayed there can be a very long wait for the next one if there is actually a next one the same day.

Margaret Hutchison:

May 29, 2013 at 02:35 PM

This is sometimes difficult to obtain as timetables are mostly now only obtainable online & many of these are not easily read by V.I.P.s & often the websites aren’t accessible to those of us who use “Screen Readers” ( ie talking voice software)

Again timetables situated at bus stops can’t be read by visually impaired ( too small &/too high etc) I have also been in the situation where the bus route has been temporarily changed ( eg due to road works) & have been unaware of this as a small “notice” had been pinned on at bus stop which I couldn’t read.

I do believe that in a very small minority of bus stations ( eg Buchanan St ,Glasgow) there are special “talking bus timetables at various bus stands which can be activated by a special ‘fob’. These have to be purchased but even so are a very good idea.

Betty Blatt:

May 29, 2013 at 02:25 PM

I am a registered blind lady who uses a Guide Dog. For 29 years I used the transport system in London experiencing many difficulties both on the underground and on the buses. These have largely been eliminated with the introduction of AV systems. Prior to this, there were many incidents where I was let off buses at the wrong place and had to rely on the public to let me know when I had reached my stop on the underground. Much improvement has been made here. With that I can retain my independence when travelling the same as everyone else.

In 2001 I moved to Surrey. This involved a different mode of transport, train and bus to get to Central London. By this time, South West Trains had been fitted with AV systems and the buses soon followed. So as a blind lady living in Greater London my experience has been good. This is not the case in other areas. My brother lives in Manchester. He is also Registered blind and I was surprised to find when visiting him that the buses did not have AV systems. On holiday in Devon I discovered the buses did not have AV either. My husband and I like to holiday in Eastbourne and the buses there do not have AV systems.

Brenda Williams:

May 29, 2013 at 02:21 PM

Public transport is essential to the independent mobility of blind and partially sighted people who are unable to drive. Buses in most parts of the country are currently inaccessible to people with sight loss.

AV announcements on buses would allow blind and partially sighted people to use the bus service with confidence and bring buses into line with other modes of transport such as trains and trams.

Bus driver training also needs to be improved. Some drivers refuse to tell visually impaired people when they have reached the correct stop. Others don’t undertake simple things like pulling the bus up to the kerb or waiting until the person has sat down before moving off.

Charles Nicol:

May 29, 2013 at 02:18 PM

Whilst ScotRail trains have Audio Visual (AV) announcements, indicating the station being approached and, when at a station, what the service destination and next station to be visited is, buses in Glasgow have no such facility. Blind and partially sighted people can travel by train much more comfortably and independently, knowing that they can be aware of where they are going and where the train currently is at any time, but those, restricted to using bus services, do not have this independence. When they ask drivers to help, such assistance is often not forthcoming (please see below section) and, if they ask other passengers, this is also very unreliable. A simple provision of automated announcements, as exists on London buses, would be a great benefit and would lead to a lot more independence for those, with sight loss. We need to make sure that proper facilities are not just provided in London, but rather, across the country.

First Bus has recently upgraded their vehicles and there is no reason why an AV Announcement facility should not be incorporated. They make a great play about having WIFI facilities on board, however, do not appear to care about the experience of those, who do not have sight.

Sue brown:

May 29, 2013 at 02:03 PM

It is not always easy to access information in written form, most incidence it is easier to speak to someone in person


May 29, 2013 at 12:45 PM

The main problem is identifying the bus number as this is not clear. There should be an audio announcement at the bus stop so people can identify the bus. Also the bus stop letter or number should be made larger and more easily identified, especially where there are several stops in one place. These changes should be implemented in urban as well as rural areas as it is not always possible to ask for help especially in London where not everyone speaks English and you are vulnerable if you use a cane.

Mrs PM Derbyshire:

May 29, 2013 at 12:16 PM

I complained at our local train station about not having a verbal announcement. I was told that they don’t make announcements in the mornings because they disturb peoples sleep, that lived in close proximity to the station. The time was 9.35am London Train Stations are terrible, because of the volume of people trying to get staff to help is virtually impossible. They are either rushing off to do something else, or when asked for help or information we are told it’s nothing to do with them.

Jacqueline valente:

May 29, 2013 at 11:14 AM

It is impossible to see travel information or if there is delays or changes with out going to ask someone to help. Where platforms are if they have changed, lucky for me one such journey the attend spot after asking him the platform he followed me a took me to the right one,that was my local train. On a long journey if I have to take changing from trains and finding the next without help is impossible and stressful. Near to impossible without help.

When using public transport wif a dog there are generally prams in the area for ppl with disabillities driver s do not say. The dogs need to be able to move Also some drivers will not allow two guide dog on at the same time. I am partially sighted my friend total and bothe have guide dogs.

Sophie Aston:

May 29, 2013 at 10:04 AM

I asked my local bus service in Crawley for braille timetables and i was provided with them which was great. I usually ring train tracker for my journey times and timetables for train journeys. This works fine. There are usually anouncements for cancelations or changes. I recently had a difficult journey where my train was stuck behind a broken down train. We had to get off and change trains. This was upsetting and difficult as there were people everywhere and they were rushing to trains, etc. The staff were helpful but i kept worrying that i would be forgotten or end up on the wrong train as platforms kept changing and train destinations. In the end the staff put me in a taxi and paid for it. I thought this was great and i felt they did their best in the chaos. I find looking up train times and fairs on the internet difficult. I don’t always find the website accessible with JAWS. Tend to use the phone for this task.

Linda Perry:

May 29, 2013 at 08:39 AM

Most Bus drivers have no or very little understanding of how a blind person could safely use a bus.Three things could make bus travel a much safer experience. 1.stopping until we are seated 2. Telling us where we are at the bus stops 3.making buses come closer to the pavement, & maybe we just might be able to use them.

Steven Hale:

May 29, 2013 at 07:28 AM

AV announcements on buses please, this is really great on trains they have it on some buses around the Harrow area to Watford. I have been registered blind since April 2011 and have a guide dog, I am a widower and since my wife passed away also I suffer with panic attacks, I do have 10% vision left in my right eye but it must be a nightmare for those who have none. Also an idea would be issuing for the severely sighted a large print timetable book with all the local bus times, I am almost sure like myself it would be nice to have handy for all those of us with a sight problem also I don’t mind paying for it. Also one point that really gets me, can you train your bus drivers better please to not just sail past people, if they see someone with a guide dog standing at the bus stop its because they want to board the bus and get somewhere not for the fun of it.

John Alistair Lyle:

May 28, 2013 at 05:11 PM

Bus timetables I think are a strain even for someone with perfect vision, so I just ask either a member of the public or someone who is standing waiting at the bus stop.

I have never had to look for information in a train station, a member of staff has always approached me to see if they can help me.

Airports are similar to the train stations in that the staff are always willing to help, but the airport assistance staff do not have the facilities that they should have for the disabled. Seats and a disable toilet appear to be all they provide, surely a vending machine would be appropriate at their gathering points, after all disable people need refreshments like everyone else, and the gathering points seem to be some distance from any of the onsite restaurants (again Terminal 5, what were they thinking!) The experience I have had with British Airways staff means I know nobody could take better care of me and my dog. This has been my experience so far, hopefully British Airways staff will continue to provide an excellent service.


May 28, 2013 at 05:10 PM

I believe the information desk in the bus station in my area needs to be improved. The staff on the desk don’t seem to know a lot of the information about various buses, and the times that they run. I have a Guide Dog whom accompanies me everywhere. However, the staff always give me a timetable for the bus I’m looking for. Over the last year or so, I have used most of the buses in our area to get to various places. Due to this, I have memorised most of the bus times, and am now able to advise other people of which bay their bus goes from. I think the information desk also needs to ring the bus companies when timetables are updated to get the new timetable available to people as quickly as possible. Sometimes, they seem to take a few weeks to get new timetables in, which leaves people with and without disabilities struggling to get the bus they need on time


May 28, 2013 at 04:54 PM

When bus services replace trains, it can be really confusing and complicated. It is not clear where you need to get your bus from.

We’d like to see all bus stops listed on timetables.

Not all bus stops have timetables on them or have been vandalised. Signs should be as “easy to read” as possible. Bus stop signs are sometimes not well maintained.

Digital screen at bus-stops sometimes say “all buses running at normal time”. This is not very helpful—especially if there isn’t a timetable at the bus stop. All digital screens should say how many minutes until the next bus is due. And this information should be accurate—quite often they are not right!

There should be a display on all buses which explains where the next stop is. London Tube trains have route maps on the trains which show the order of the stops. It would be really useful if buses and trains also had this.

One of our members told us about “i-bus”—it has a speaker system which says out loud when the next bus stop is. This is really helpful.

Our members have learning disabilities and many do not use the Internet or have access to a computer. Please don’t assume that all people can access travel information via the Internet! None of our group had heard of the Transport Direct website.

Improved complaints system—many people have had poor experiences of public transport but don’t know how to complain.

In Reading, the bus fares are printed clearly on the side of the bus. This should be standard practice. Reading has also colour-coded their buses. This makes it a lot easier to recognise what service you need.

None of our members have a smart phone so apps would not help us to travel more independently. We thought it might be useful to have smart phone type touch screens at bus stops. These would need to be very simple to use with clear information about the next stop.

Ticket machines could be easier to use. There is too much information on them and the writing needs to be bigger. They also need to be positioned away from direct sunlight to avoid glare.

Many of our members rely on the ticket office to buy train tickets. One of our members visits the ticket office in advance to avoid having to use the machine when the ticket office is closed.

Torie Tennant:

May 28, 2013 at 04:51 PM

I have had a mostly positive experience with using transport. The trains are brilliant because they have announcements, but busses need them. While i have had a mainly positive experience with busses regarding the drivers telling me when to get off, it does put pressure on bus drivers, and they could easily forget leaving visually impaired passengers stranded. Also if you were in a new area having the announcements would tell you exactly where you were and you wouldn’t have to get off too early, or you wouldn’t have to ask other passengers.

It wouldn’t just benifit blind and partially sighted people though, it would benifit the elderly, tourists, and just anybody.

I hope this will be the law soon. If busses can provide wifi to their passengers, why can’t they provide announcements? They could even have a microphone on the dashboard for the driver to speak the next stop etc as a low cost solution.

I hope we see some changes soon.

Michael Anderson:

May 28, 2013 at 04:48 PM

GDBA has informed me that the above committee will be looking at the accessibility of Public Transport for the visually impaired. I am a Guide Dog Owner and have been a registered blind person since November 1974. I am also hearing impaired since birth.

1. As a widower I am very dependant on public transport. Two of my family have cars but live quite some distance from me and so it isn’t practical for them to help me in my daily life.

2. At present I am very reluctant to use buses as I have limited hearing to let me know if there is anyone else waiting for a bus and so ask them for assistance. Nowadays buses are becoming quieter and it is not always easy to hear one approaching, especially if the street is already busy with traffic. If I had a device which could inform me of the number and/or destination of an approaching bus that would be a good beginning. And to complete the journey satisfactorily it would be very helpful to know when one has arrived at the desired stop or place. Currently I do use the train and do so confidently, partly because of the various announcements given at the station and on the train and partly because there is some predictability about trains—a door always opens, location of seats easy and staff are usually willing to help.

steve ward:

May 28, 2013 at 04:42 PM

often hard to find imformation if no one to ask.if te buses talking machine not avaiable or not on at the stop

Ian McClenaghan:

May 28, 2013 at 04:37 PM

The lack of information given out by driver/conductors has reduced when the two jobs have been rolled into one. No amount of asking the driver to “let you know” when such and such a stop is reached has got less and less over the years. However there are some drivers who do their best to announce certain stops. Not all drivers know the routes they travel by street or places of importance. A driver on one bus route sarcastically mocked a blind friend because she has one of these gadgets which gives her a running commentary of where the bus is as it takes her home to Kilsyth. Unfortunately we cannot all afford such technical and useful gadgets. It is up to the bus companies who employ to train bus drivers properly. It is part of their job to get to know the route and certain land marks and should be taught and tested that they do give correct information out during the journey. Gone are the days when conductors gave a running commentary of where the bus is or is approaching, especially when the passenger usually tells the driver where they are going, or is this a thing of the past?.

If the driver cannot be bothered then he should find another job.

Genene Henshaw:

May 28, 2013 at 04:24 PM

Hello Yes it would make life a lot easier if buses had audiable information on them such as stops they are approching etc.

Andrew Johnsona:

May 28, 2013 at 03:41 PM

as a vision impaired person there is no accessible information or people to ask for help.


May 28, 2013 at 02:32 PM

Information needs available in various formats and font size increased as it can be very different trying to read notices, when the font is quite small and the screen is at a higher level.

Using the Travelline to find out routes, connections is very difficult.

K Hounlsow:

May 28, 2013 at 11:34 AM

As a hard of hearing person, if the boards are running and you can read them that is fine until they make a last minute change and then you are stuck. The announcements are not clear, and by the time you work out it is a change to your train it is too late. If ou manage to work out there is a problem often there is no staff to tell you what was said and where you need to be—the bit you missed in the announcement! If you are walk slowly/then even if you work out the change and can find out where to go quite often by the time you make it to the other side of the station or where ever your train has moved to it has gone before you get there and you have to struggle all the way back to the original platform and wait for the next train.

it isn’t just trains. Try airports—it is highly stressful having been left at the gate you were expected by assistance to suddenly find all the other passengers dashing off to another gate at the other end of the terminal and all you can do is hope that someone from assistance comes along with a wheelchair to get o there.

Frank Sprules:

May 27, 2013 at 02:49 PM

There is no “one size fits all” solution for information dissemination.Different people, and age groups, might or might not be able to use “apps” and suchlike, we have basic PC skills and use the web for a lot. I did have problems with your site.

Bristol Disability Equality Forum, a disabled person led organisation in Bristol that campaigns for disability equality:

May 27, 2013 at 11:26 AM

We have made a number of suggestions to Bristol City Council’s Taxi Forum to improve access to information for people requiring accessible taxis. Unfortunately, there is no one place to go to where accessible Private Licensed Vehicles are listed.

Franklin Brady:

May 24, 2013 at 06:59 PM

I find reading timetables very difficult and if for any reason I do travel someeone where I don’t know I often plan my journey on the internet. I have found sometimes staff haven’t always been very helpful even if I’ve disclosed my disability. I do feel that as well as having information boards staff need to be made more aware of disabled passangers and have the appropriate training to offer assistance. I also feel that if there are apps on smart phones they need to be made more accessible for disabled passengers. I believe everyone has the right to travel independently and thier disability should not be an issue. At my local station Turkey Street I cannot read the information board as it is not accessible so I always make sure I know the times of the trains and plan my route as in the past staff have not been very helpful. I do feel information boards need to be made more accessible for disabled passengers.

Nicola Mills:

May 23, 2013 at 03:03 PM

It would be helpful to have more information on the buses about stops on the route—similar to underground routes on the tubes.

The information at the bus stops is not the same at each stop.

The route maps can be hard to understand.

The 24 hour times are hard to understand.

The most helpful information is the announcements on the buses

It is confusing when there is a diversion—it is best to know at the beginning if there is a diversion

It is difficult when buses terminate before the end of the route (this seems to happen regularly on some routes).

michelle challens:

May 23, 2013 at 08:39 AM

I found your Transport Direct website very busy and overwhelming! I understand that you want to be able to see whats there without hunting for it but its too much—even for a sighted internet user! If i put magnification or speech software on my computer it would be a nightmare. Dont take my word though, have a go! Dont rely on technology to solve the issues, speech via headphones or speakers is where its at!

Lindsey Bidder:

May 22, 2013 at 04:58 PM

I recently took a group of 12 children with special educational needs on a bus to visit our local market. The bus operators office staff were very helpful in assisting me working out the timings and cost, but I was amazed that the only discount we could apply brought the cost down from £80+ to £63 for the 12 children and 7 adults accompanying them on a 3 mile return journey. It would have been cheaper to hire a minibus, but part of the experience was to actually use public transport!

Philip Booth:

May 22, 2013 at 12:42 PM

The following are some of the comments were made by people with a learning disability looking at transport issues in Gloucestershire—they spoke to nearly 100 people with a learning disability last year. This new group has met several times with the County Council and are working together to seek a number of improvements:

“We are working with County Council to make their bus pass renewal pack easier to understand—it was very difficult but staff were good at being helpful.”

“I don’t go on the bus because I don’t know when the next bus will come”.

“We are talking to the County about what they need to do to make timetables more accessible.”

“I would like to see Easy Read being used for timetables and information—why don’t they have Easy Read timetables?”

“There was a project in Gloucestershire called ‘OnMyBus’ that looked at the possibility of individual Easy Read timetables; possibly with photos of bus stops. This has not happened yet but we hope it might happen.”

“I made a complaint—the bus person was very polite and helpful but did not write the complaint down—I can’t understand the complaints forms and they are not available for us—we need to have have an Easy Read form and maybe a telephone number. How else can bus services get better if they don’t listen to us?”

“I think a YouTube explaining how to make a complaint would help.”

“I like SMART phones—they can help.”

“I don’t understand the phone, I want to be able to get good information from people, like talking to people.”


May 20, 2013 at 04:28 PM

I am deaf in both ears, and often find myself stuck on my journey to work most mornings on the tubes when annoucements are made I cannot hear at all. Not all passengers are helpful to me and neither are the staff.

I have even been stranded in a station one evening once because the train took an unexpected diversion from Clapham Junction to Teddington. I wanted to go home to Putney. I was lost and could not find a member of staff to help me and ask what was going on. There was no real time information on the train—and never usually is anyway (nor on the tubes!).

carol campbell:

May 20, 2013 at 09:24 AM

bus—my biggest complaint is that the only space for a guide dog on a london bus is the wheelchair space. guide dogs are not mentioned on the notice so adults with a baby buggy will often not move to let you in, one person last week ran her buggy hard into my guide dog. if a dog cannot get into the wheelchair space then they are constantly stood on some buses don’t talk and it is then difficult to know where you are diversions—i have no idea how to find out about these I was left last week in a diversion, the wrong side of a 6lane road with no beeps and no twirly thing on the crossing to help me across mainline trains have good information points and many staff are very helpful i find that if you book the journey as a disabled person then the london tube system is helpful.

I use on line apps and i would like the system expanded to make all of them access friendly -at the moment once on a journey you are reliant on good staff i was on a east midlands train last week with no public announcements—you end up reliant on other passengers to tell you where you are virgin train staff excellent in this situation always let you know.

Tracy Hammond:

May 20, 2013 at 09:04 AM

Online booking or journey planning is very difficult for someone with low literacy. Fast ticket machines are a source of great consternation for many of the people KeyRing supports. They also assume that people have access to a suitable bank card if collecting pre-paid tickets. There is often an over-whelming array of tickets available with penalties for incorrect use. As assistance needs to be booked in advance and online systems are difficult, some people need to visit stations in person before the day of travel to seek advice on tickets before booking assistance. This means they are unable to make last minute journeys, and is inconvenient as stations are often a distance from people’s homes.

Elisabeth Abbott:

May 19, 2013 at 06:37 PM

I am registered blind but have some limited vision. I can use the Internet and mobile apps to get travel info for trains buses and tubes and this is generally helpful. Displays at bus stops are helpful ads I have a good idea of when my bus is coming, and these are generally helpful.

The iBus system on London buses makes travel much less stressful. The problem with this is that sometimes turned off, too quiet or not working and you have no way of knowing unless the driver tells you, which they don’t. Occasionally the announcements don’t give enough warning and this needs attention. This isn’t in operation outside London. There is a real need for this to be made available as soon as possible as it not only helps people like myself but will help those who are not familiar with the area.

Tube and longer distance trains now have announcements which is extremely useful. Local trains in my area vary so sometimes there are announcements but not always. We need consistency.

Peta Hatton:

May 16, 2013 at 04:41 PM

I run YILTS—York Independent Living and Travel Skill. I am employed by City of York Council to help young people with SEN to travel to their place of education independently—on foot, bike or by bus.

My first comment is not so much about travel information, but more about the national scheme for concessionary passes for young people with disabilities. The card does not allow people to travel before 9.00 am, meaning that this vulnerable group can only travel free on their way home from school or College. More importantly than the money this costs them is often the worry this causes. One of the barriers to travel for many young people with SEN is having to talk to the driver and buy a ticket with money—the bus pass takes away the need to do this. I would urge you to look at extending the hours that the pass is valid so that it can be used at any time of the day.

In terms of information, one of the best methods of reducing anxiety and thus encouraging this vulnerable group to travel by bus, is for the bus stop to display real time bus times electronically. This method is far easier to understand than a timetable and provides information about buses due in the next half an hour so that those who have trouble telling the time know how long they have to wait. These have been installed in some bus stops in York and my students visibly relax when they can see this information. I would welcome these being installed at all bus stops

Thank you for the opportunity to share these opinions.

Peta C Mason:

May 16, 2013 at 10:29 AM

I was thrilled when we joined the modern world in Yorkshire and electronic bus information screens were introduced to bus stations and bus stops.

Sadly, at some bus stops the screens have been placed so high up that they are impossible to read.

The ones that are dark screens with orage coloured writing on are excellent, the contrast between the background on the screen and the colour, shape and size of the font are good but the others that are like old tv screens are hopeless. The screens are grey with grey writing and any glare from sunlight or daylight outshines the text.

Also, for anyone with a learning disability or sight impairment, wouldn’t it be helpful to have the information on the screen announced so that it can be heard as well as seen?

Also, in West Yorkshire, we have a real time bus information service. This used to be great, once you entered the bus stop code or service number, it opeeed a dark coloured screen with yellow font giving the due time of the next bus or buses. The site has now been “improved”.

When the code or number has been entered, this opens up a white screen with the tiniest of pale grey text on it. This once well used service is now useless to me. A backward step in a modern world.

Jamie Dowling:

May 15, 2013 at 11:45 AM

Because I know which sites to look at, am a bit more knowledgeable than many people and usually make the same or similar journeys, I usually get reasonable information about routes and fares.

The provision of information about delays and service alterations is often a problem. Southeastern are a regular offender in failing to provide accurate and up to the minute information, both on services carrying their name and on services carrying the First Capital Connect name. This is true for all weather conditions.

Southeastern cannot be trusted to provide timely and accurate information. Often you can find more reliable information on Twitter.

I do feel that train station staff in particular should be more flexible in dealing with disabled people and not insist on 24 hours’ notice of travelling via the disabled booking system. Some staff are—the staff at Wolverhampton station were extremely helpful in assisting me on one occasion when I was in a wheelchair and had to make a very short notice journey. They called through to my destination station and ensured staff were there to help me.

Information at train stations is often flawed. Catford station’s noticeboard has a paragraph which says “Catford station has step free access to both platforms” when the reality is that it does not.

Catford Bridge has step free access to platforms but is a different station on a different line with different services. I do not know whether this is a failure on Southeastern’s part or on Network Rail’s part but if they cannot get simple information provision right then that does not bode well for any other information.

When in London I use the TFL journey planner, although they appear to have decommissioned the mobile version of the site. On mobile devices the standard journey planner often throws up errors and refuses to work.

When in the West Midlands I use the Network West Midlands website. This works well on both PC and mobile phone (not a smart phone).

It has become a habit to make sure I know the postcodes of the places I am visiting to ensure I get better results from the websites.

I have tried the Transport Direct site. Its front page is too cluttered, too busy and looks somewhat out of date compared to the TFL and Network West Midlands sites.

Not everyone uses a smartphone or a tablet. I do not and I work in the IT sector. It would be foolish to think that an app will be the solution to everyone’s problems.

Information needs to be made available as soon as possible and kept as up to date as possible. It’s obvious to say that but this must be done at all times and in all weather conditions. Network Rail often do not release timetables for inter‐city train journeys until a few weeks before. This makes planning journeys in advance and shopping for cheaper tickets difficult. Train companies continue to make last minute cancellations or alterations and do not inform passengers until the last minute.

Information websites need to be truly accessible by all means—normal mobile phone, computer, tablet, internet kiosk—or you will isolate certain sections of the disabled community. Certified as accessible by the Shaw Trust would be a good start. Websites are not the complete solution though.

Telephone assistance lines should be provided and improved, including being open beyond workday hours.

They should follow the model of the old West Midlands to have the “Centro Hotline”, a local telephone number call which provided journey information.

The use of 084x and 087x based telephone numbers must stop, or a local geographic number be provided as an alternative. 084x and 087x numbers are usually profit sharing and because they are not part of any mobile phone calls bundle they are charged to the caller at unfavourable rates. Local geographic numbers are part of mobile phone bundles so the caller is not overcharged.

Digital television is another method that could be used for checking travel information. This is not something I have used so cannot comment further on it.

shiyalini mohan:

May 14, 2013 at 05:38 PM

for renew my buspass it take long time to wait.

Matthew Proudman:

May 13, 2013 at 11:38 PM

In some cases the bus routine can change with out warning which can people who require travel planning (help to plan a route of travel) stranded. Also information should be kept update online to allow assistance staff post changes and replan for students.

rhyan berrigan:

May 13, 2013 at 12:54 PM

i have to praise First Great Western for their acceptance of their mistake and good will gesture when for a delay and distressed caused by my deafness due to lack of information when travelling on their london to cardiff service.

claire cridland:

May 11, 2013 at 10:39 PM

I can most probably guarantee that if there are any delays, an announcment is made over the tannoy, i struggle to hear this, failing miserably, and usually end up missing my connection. having to wait in the que to speak to staff, who ask my to wait for the next message over the tannoy! grrrr... on more than several occassions this has happened. staff are soo busy trying to give you the quickest advice possible, they even get stressed if they have to give you extra time... I hate public transport with a passion.. i would not rely on TFL at all.. they dont mention last min delays, I have even sat on a tube at morden where the train was delayed for ver 20 mins, before a member of staff came and mentioned that the train was going nowhere!! :( how embarrassing!

Rebecca Thomas:

May 11, 2013 at 04:43 AM

I did not know the Transport Direct website existed. More needs to be made of this site! I live in a very rural village and have been told not to drive by my GP due to medication currently being taken. I didn’t have a clue what services where available, however this site has provided me with the information I require quickly and simply. There is only one issue: It doesn’t seem to recognise some addresses and won’t let me paste postcodes into the data box.

David Seligman:

May 11, 2013 at 12:29 AM

When in London I know all buses are ramped. I travel independently in a wheelchair. Outside London people who answer telephones at bus companies do not seem to know the difference between a bus that is simply low floor and one that is ramped.

I use Traveline for bus timetable information. They say that they show a bus with a wheelchair symbol where ramped buses are in use on a route, but their information is woefully out of date. I have travelled on scores of routes with fully accessible buses that are not indicated by Traveline. They are failing to gather and check information from bus companies and councils properly

Dawn Mckenna:

May 10, 2013 at 09:20 PM

The biggest problem when seeking info from say the actual company is staff not knowing about access requirements or if they can meet them.

I find many online places do have good info but you often have to dig for it and there isn’t a clear list of all companies who lay on accessible transport or anywhere to find reviews of the service since some companies say they’re accessible and manage to mess it up.

Matthew Hanson:

May 10, 2013 at 05:54 PM

People see a wheel chair getting on board but still sit in the same place and take up seats with shopping. also people still play loud music and I can hear it through there head phones. Plus they eat and drink. N some people have no manners at all when they pass wind or belch

P Cassidy:

May 10, 2013 at 03:23 PM

Are you having a laugh at our expense? We have electronic boards, but these are out of date, I’ve been sat waiting for an hour only to find by a kind passerby—the bus stop is not in use? Brilliant, an electronic board that does not state that?

Trisha Jackson:

May 10, 2013 at 02:03 PM

Getting travel information is extremly difficult, websites are not easy to negotiate, I tried to book tickets and reserve seats for journeys to and from Bristol Temple Meads and Birmingham International via Reading for the end of June 2013 for The Who Concert at the LG Arena, I completed all the details said I had a disabled rail card, but I could not get any seats at all, this was as soon as I was able to book an advance ticket when they were available to book, I would like to know what is going on an absolute disgrance, I have the hotel booked and the concert ticket but because I could not travel by train because I could not reserve any seats whatsoever I cannot travel on the trains for the above journeys, there is no way I can stand on my journeys. I am a disabled lady with Multiple Sclerosis, I walk with a tripod walking stick, I also have balance problems and arthritis in both my knees. I now have had to book to travel to and from Birmingham by coach.

An Absolute disgrace, disabled people are not being catered for and we have every right to travel by train if we should so wish People should remember what is stated in the Equality Act 2010.

Peter Lockhart:

May 10, 2013 at 01:53 PM

Travel information is not good. Stagecoach in my local area have a disability hotline but that only opperates between the hours of 8.30 to 17.00. This isn’t advertised. It also means that if a bus arrives that is inaccessible then you have nowhere to turn to in the evenings. I hav been left standing in remote villages after not being able to access a bus as stagecoach hasn’t put on a lowliner. After the hours of 5pm disabled people are left on thier own due to stagecoach failings.

Eric Day:

May 10, 2013 at 01:30 PM

There is no accessible information available to visually iimpaire users, many stops now have electronioc displays but lack audible announcements. Locally buses still do not have audible announcements and drivers rarely let you know where you are.

Alex Squire:

May 10, 2013 at 01:00 PM

I have used information from the National rail enquiries website in the past to plan journeys around London. I found it difficult to trust the information when it said that a particular station was accessible. It needs to be made clear whether there is a gap between the platform and the train, or if it is level. If there were photos of the platform and any gap this would be very useful, and or measurements. I have also found that different sources give conflicting information. The National rail enquiries website said that King’s Cross station was accessible, however transport for London helpline said it wasn’t. There needs to be a dedicated central source of information that is reliable and clear. If the information is provided by wheelchair users themselves it will be reliable and probably accurate. Rather than able-bodied people trying to decide whether a station is accessible on not, without ever trying to use it in a wheelchair. disabled people are the best judges of accessibility And should be able to give their views on particular stations.

Staff Assistance

Janet Guest:

June 07, 2013 at 10:35 AM

My Daughter is registered blind it would help immensley if public transport announced the bus stops, she can travel on some routes where she has had mobility training, but she has to concentrate for the whole bus journey.

Mark Smith:

June 05, 2013 at 04:57 PM

I’ve generally always found staff at train stations very helpful and as long as assistance one requires is booked in advance it usually works well.

Bill Norman:

June 04, 2013 at 01:41 PM

No staff are not aware of this and this may be down to:

Not enough time to explore different disabilities during training.

An over reliance on e learning.

An inconsistent approach to refresher training.

A secretive attitude to the content of current training delivered.

Actual local examples that I am aware of relating to people with visual impairment people with ABI and people with mobility problems


There needs to be a pan disability viewpoint on what should be in training.

There should be national Training standards defined as part of Fulfilling Potential’s implementation programme but don’t be prescriptive about detailed delivery. Otherwise , different organisations could lose their individual approach identity and unique strengths to the content and delivery of training.

But you can and should define some cornerstones ie:

Training must at least be in part face to face.

Must be led by people themselves.

Whichever disability they have will make the most impact so remember this must be balanced with references to others in training.

People with profound disabilities needs should be covered.

People with more than one disability need to be covered also.

It must include SEVERAL example of hidden disabilities covering the range.

Must include gradations of disability—you are not just blind or you’re not being the obvious example.

Use technology to demonstrate what these mean eg Vision Sim app.

Make a requirement that operators MUST publish disability training specifications for public scrutiny.

However in terms of interaction with the operators and passengers we must emphasise human interface and not over reliance on technology.

Ideally needs a different “swap with me” type approach to a different disaibility each year as part of refresher training.

However all of the above must go alongside a charter of the responsibilities and expectation from disabled passengers.

Think about hate crime -People do not feel are on buses especially threat of hate crime for people with learning disabilities .Significant work has been undertaken here by the Learning Disability Partnership Board’s Safety and Quality group and in particular through our Community Safety ARCH team. This has secured commitment from the bus companies to include a hate crime “what needs to be done” must do checklist as part of annual driver refresher training alongside publicising this to all stakeholders

David Froggat:

June 04, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Driver training by bus companies should be mandatory, especially in the following instances:

At request stops, buses often pass by despite it being obvious that the passenger cannot see: ie using a white cane or accompanied by a guide dog.

The bus should not move until the blind passenger has found a seat.

Drivers should tell the passenger the number or route of the bus, but rarely do so. Bus drivers often forget or refuse to advise a blind passenger when their stop is reached.

Drivers should inform a blind passenger of a deviation from the normal route ieg due to road works.

Jane Cockram:

June 03, 2013 at 02:58 PM

As a registered blind person with a guide dog my biggest worry is attempting to travel by bus.

Should I be fortunate enough to have help from the public and actually board the correct bus, I then cannot see the bus stop I require so ask the bus driver to let me know when I have arrived. Nine times out of ten they do not remember to do so.

I’m sure if you spent one week trying to manage as visually impaired people do you would quickly instigate Talking Buses and Bus Stops.

Please consider the stress we live under on a daily basis.


June 03, 2013 at 02:57 PM

With the exception of Lothian Buses where staff clearly receive disability awareness training, staff assistance is very poor. Other company’s drivers frequently do not pull the bus in to the kerb, lower the step, or shout the number/destination of the bus or announce my desired stop when I have asked them to tell me when the bus is approaching it. Drivers failing to advise me when the bus has been approaching my stop resulted in me missing doctors appointments and being late for work. It has also involved me alighting in unfamiliar surroundings and having to find my way back to where I intended to alight.

Victor Cheal:

June 03, 2013 at 02:53 PM

As a registered blind person and living with my partenre who is very parshualey sighted with guide dogs, the bus serveice that runs from South Molton to Barnstable is most vital for are needs as our small Town has limited shopping, this service has been reduced from four buses a day to just two This service is most important to us and others.

AV announcements would be most valued in our community as there is a small amount of visualley impeard people living here in South Molton and can be a strain and worry if the bus destination should be missed, again this service would be greatfully received as not to put pressure on the driver.

I must admit the drivers here in South Molton are very conciderate towards blind people and are very helpful, the hydrolic ramps are of great use as far as to say the guide dog walks up the ramp instead of looking for steps.

The bus company has considered all disabilities.

Tony Averis:

June 03, 2013 at 02:34 PM

Having the opportunity to prebook assistance in travelling throughout a journey (when it works) is reassuring. I do, sometimes, wonder that when I am booking train tickets (for myself and my Guide Dog), that when speaking to a customer service operative of a train provider, that they truly understand what an assistance dog is and does. Many of the train operators use telephone support systems based outside of the UK. I would suggest that more awareness training, of all disabilities, should be commonplace and an embedded part of their training, reinforced by regular training for those who lack the understanding of disabilities.

Thank you for giving me, and all disabled travellers the opportunity of putting forward our views of transport in the UK. Transport for London is an example of good practise, which should be mirrored all around the UK.

Carole Holmes:

June 03, 2013 at 02:30 PM

Hello, my name is Carole Holmes MBE. I have been a guide dog owner for 24 years and I live in Blackpool. I have regularly used the local buses as I’m always “out and about”. The problems I have locally are stops which are used by more than one busline. The bus I need some times parks quite far into the road and I have to step off the kerb and check the number with alighting passengers. It would be a great help if the driver shouted the number to me and them I can encourage my dog to follow the voice and find the door. Most of my buses are accessible to wheelchair users, but unfortunately they don’t pull up to the kerb and I have to hurriedly check to see if I need to walk off a kerb before mounting the bus. The drivers who recognise me and my dog are extremely helpful and even remember the stops I use. Sometimes the rest of the drivers forget to shout my stop and it is a real struggle for me to follow a route back to my regular bus stop. Also I have fallen on a bus when the driver set off with a jerk before I was seated. My other problem at my regular stops is the positioning of the bus stop sign. I can’t understand why these posts are not sited up against the shelter. All in all, my life would be very boring if I didn’t have access to local transport, but I hope that stop announcements are introduced in Blackpool. It would be very helpful for all the visitors to Blackpool. Our new tram system has this system and it is marvellous.

Harold Smith:

June 03, 2013 at 02:28 PM

My name is Harold Smith and I reside in Cadishead in Salford. I have been totally blind for the last 40years and I have a Guide Dog. I have three issues I wish to be addressed at the forthcoming Select Committee meeting.

Firstly, Knowing the bus service you require, could the driver state the number of the service when the bus door opens, passengers with site loss do not always have a white cane or guide dog. When entering the bus, showing your pass to the driver is sometimes sufficient, but some drivers insist that the pass is swiped across a machine, it would be most helpful if the driver could be of assistance with this.

Secondly, knowing where to get off, asking the driver to let you know when you reach your destination does not always happen, the driver may be in very busy traffic or he has to cope with a large number of passengers when your stop comes up and he forgets. The answer to this is to have an audio system broadcasting the name of the next stop as it approaches it. This is done on the train services and on the Manchester Metro service, so why not on the busses?

Thirdly, when entering the bus, finding a seat can take a little time and in a lot of cases the bus moves off. This can be quite disorientating as you have to find a handhold very quickly so as not to fall. Could it be stressed to the driver not to move off till all passengers are seated. Also when you reach your destination, you have to keep a handhold until the bus comes to a stop, so by the time you reach the door new passengers are coming on to the bus and you have to push past them to get off. It would be most helpful if the driver could delay passengers getting on the bus until all passengers who have reached their destination have got off.

If all these issues are addressed, it would not only assist people with sight loss, it would help young mothers with buggies and toddlers, wheelchair users and ambulant disabled, quite a range of people.

Stephanie Sergeant:

June 03, 2013 at 02:25 PM

One driver took my money, to take me to the bus stop I asked for.

Soon after a new driver got on, I asked if we had reached my stop. To my horror he said, “This bus does not go to that stop.” Mercifully for me, he was far kinder than the other driver, He flagged down a bus going in the opposite direction the way I needed to go. Whilst the other passengers waited he guided me over the road and on to the right bus. A passenger asked if he was my boyfriend. I smiled and said “No he was the bus driver!” I was able to visit a friend who was dying because of his help.

The difference between the two drivers is very marked you must agree. Staff training on assisting the disabled makes a huge difference. The attitude of the bus company goes a long way towards this. Virgin trains are a good example. I feel far safer on their trains than with any other provider.

Another thing drivers need to do is stop at the bus stop (no they do not always do this),

And announce the number of their bus if they see somebody with a long cane or guide dog. This is especially vital for request stops. I once took the train from Birmingham to Northampton, for a meeting in a nearby village. I then waited at a request stop, hoping to be able to tell the sound of the bus engine and flag it down. I tried several vehicles but after two hours realised that the bus had sailed past me. I was able to get to the bus station, and catch another bus. I arrived at the end of the meeting. Which was rather pointless really.

Drivers have to look out for a hand wave, so its no more dangerous to stop for a guide dog or long cane user.

You can see how much difference this would have mmade.

I have never tried to catch a request bus since, as it is too unreliable.

Helpful drivers have given me directions to the next bus stop when dropping me off, or explained which land marks are nearby which I would recognise, and generally through giving information made life so much easier. This has meant living a fuller life, and contributing to others.

Sue Smith:

June 03, 2013 at 02:20 PM

I definatly agree with having AV announcements and driver training.

More than once I have been standing at a bus stop when the bus just sailed straight past . I was told by someone that it was probably because I didn’t put my hand out, I would need to do this to every vehicle as I don’t see the bus until it is right in front of me.

One suggestionI have is it would be really helpful if there could be conductors back on the buses. Not only could they be there to help the elderly and disabled, they could stop any problem passengers.

Joyce Yates:

June 03, 2013 at 02:16 PM

As a visually impaired person and a Guide Dog owner and user of buses 6 out of 7 days a week I would like to express my views as follows: -

Not all bus drivers pull up to the kerb when either getting on or off the bus or lower the step which dies makes it easier not only for me but for my Guide Dog, when showing your bus pass some drivers rather abruptly ask you to put it on the scanner whereas others will gently take the pass from you and place it on the scanner themselves and hand you back your pass and bus ticket, some drivers wait while you sit down before moving off, others don’t bother.

It would be really helpful if the driver announced which bus had pulled up at the bus stop and its destination especially where there are several buses pulling up at the same stop. Some drivers in my experience have even driven past me and not stopped. I have also found when in the local bus station if the bus changes stand no one informs you, this does happen on a regular basis and if I didn’t ask another passenger waiting to get on the bus, then I wouldn’t have been made aware of this.

The buses are also quite untidy at times, with half eaten sandwiches, crisp packets, etc on the floor etc and the most well trained Guide Dog will always have a go at picking something up which isn’t very good. I have also been asked to move seats on the odd occasion so that someone else could sit down or to fit a pushchair in, just as I was getting my dog settled.

It would be a big help if the bus driver announced which number bus I was getting on, and which stops are where, just like the announcement on a train.

James Allen:

June 03, 2013 at 02:12 PM

drvers of buses need to go on a course of draining regarding helping blind people they often leave a blind people t the bus stop saying on enquiry they must make time up an cannot stop to pik up blindpeopleno advice is given on board an often i have got off 2 miles from where i need be to farraway from the curb is often their prastic an moving while walking to seat is a regulat event so all what the commetee have in mind to do is a must an the into town bus in spalding lincolnshire need training very badly

Ray Ling:

June 03, 2013 at 02:11 PM

here is my views on bus services for the blind the physical side is ok but improvements with vocal announcements would be wonderful.

Some training for bus drivers would be a great help for blind people as there are a great difference in the speed of of blind and some or more consideration would be very helpful.

Michael Lee:

June 03, 2013 at 02:07 PM

As a partially sighted guide dog owner and one who uses busses in London, welcome the audio announcements on board the buses.

Regrettably , buses do not always lower the platform or park near the kerb which can be dangerous at times.

I am surprised that guide dogs do not have priority over mums with buggies and have had many an altercation with mums who think they have a divine right to put their pram where my dog is.

It is understood that buggies are supposed to be folded if possible BEFORE getting on the bus but I have yet to see this and think it is at times not possible.

Surely there should be restrictions on:

1.The number of buggies allowed at any one time on a bus ( I have been on buses when there have been three or more )

2.There should also be restrictions on the time of travel > not during rush hour <

Ian Snowdon:

June 03, 2013 at 02:03 PM

This particular issue needs quite a bit of attention.

The majority of bus drivers do not wait for passengers to sit down before they drive away from the stop.

In a lot of cases, they do not tell you what number the bus is and when asked, sometimes forget to let you know when your stop is coming up.

I feel that having Audio/Visual information on buses will aid drivers in their job, as they will not have the added responsibility of remembering to let passengers know when their stop is etc.

Anita Cooper:

June 03, 2013 at 02:01 PM

I wish to support the Guide Dogs for the Blind’s campaign regarding “Talking Buses”. I have been fortunate to work as an audio typist since losing my sight in the 1970s and have travelled to work each day both in Manchester and Bolton. However I am now retired but still use buses and trains.

I have no problem accessing a bus with my guide dog. However I find some drivers quite hostile but fortunately some are quite helpful. Consequently, though, I feel very anxious when leaving home to set off on a journey as it is hit and miss which kind of driver I will encounter.

It would be quite marvellous to know that information would be announced on every bus and for the drivers to give us time to find a seat before setting off.

May I take this opportunity to also encourage train operators to make better accommodation provision for guide dogs.

Best wishes Anita Cooper and Seb.


June 03, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Sad fact is that it is hit and miss, and more often bad or inadequate than good.

Failure to recongise the support required or falt refusal, Failure to be met or no flexibility, Bus drivers who think they can get awaywith it because the blind lady won’t see them do it.

city equals:

June 03, 2013 at 08:47 AM

we would say some staff try very hard to help but some dont understand LDD or individual needs.

Robert Latham:

June 02, 2013 at 06:33 PM

Firstly, the generic disability awareness training for Newcastle and Gateshead public transport staff is not up to scratch. I have written to at least two local providers and not to put too fine a point on it I have been fobbed off. What concerns me just as much is the fact that some of the drivers cannot converse with passengers very well in English. There now seems to be an over concentration on sat nav technology which means that many drivers do not recognise descriptions of local landmarks along their routes. This means I have to rely on members of the public before I get on or off a bus, as fellow passengers give out more reliable information than many bus drivers. Unfortunately, I am not very comfortable with this approach as it leaves me feeling vulnerable especially of an early morning, evening or when there are few people around. I would like to say that I would definitely use my local bus service more if there was greater awareness amongst staff and accessible information put in place. The latter can be significantly improved by the former as my trips to Merseyside have proved. I find their stations, staff and bus drivers remarkably more friendly, helpful and patient compared to their Newcastle and Gateshead colleagues. Finally, if private bus providers wish to experience a bus service which is safe, clean, accessible and integrated with rail transport, car parking and air travel, I advise them to visit Stockholm. Our bus companies have no excuse around cost, as Stockholm’s public transport is almost entirely contracted out to private sector companies. It must make a profit or why would these companies bother?!

Rosemary Berks:

June 02, 2013 at 05:11 PM

I have had very few positive experiences travelling by train (which I always book well in advance), examples of this are:

I have a mobility impairment, which means I have to use a wheelchair to get on and off a train as I can neither use the step nor walk up a ramp.

I travel with a Support Worker who has on many occasions had to go and find staff at the station to being a wheelchair. On almost every occasion, I or my Support Worker has to remind the staff to put the brake on before I sit down and ask them to put the foot plates to the side and back in place when I have sat down. My Support Worker then usually has to show the staff how to do this.

On many occasions, whilst travelling from Darlington to London, my Support Worker has had to look for staff at Kings Cross to ask them to bring a chair and set out the ramp, despite being booked and reminding the staff on the train. This has put more pressure on us, as we had to try and reschedule pick up times etc.

On one occasion, when a train from Darlington had been unavoidably delayed, I was given the choice to wait for the next train to Kings Cross, which would have meant I again would have missed my booked accessible transport.

I took the option of travelling on an earlier train, which meant I would need to change at another busy station, after being reassured that staff would be in place. On the train, I again asked staff if someone would be there with a wheelchair and a ramp—again I was reassured that this would be the case. When I arrived at where I needed to get my connection, there were no staff available to support me. I could not get off, so had to physically stop the train doors closing. My Support Worker had to attract the station staff. This led to the mainline train being held up for 15 minutes whilst a ramp and wheelchair were found. In the end there were 4 staff with radios and one who came from a platform over the bridge with a wheelchair. The train was packed with people and I was mortified by this whole experience.


Staff need more disability awareness from disabled people’s organisations. Disabled people can speak from experience, sharing knowledge and understanding of both the positive and negative experiences.

Steve Wilkinson:

June 02, 2013 at 11:56 AM

Largely, staff assistance is good. However, I’d prefer them to ask me about the assistance I prefer rather what they think I need. For example, in my manual wheelchair, I often find it easier once I’ve seen where the bus stops and the platform is lowered that it is easier to get off without the ramp. It is less hassle for the driver and inconvenience to other passengers.

Having heard cases recently of drivers not keeping wheelchair spaces clear from use by parents with buggies when a wheelchair user requires a space, I feel it should be made mandatory that a wheelchair space is always available and that the driver could be prosecuted in a legislation change if that doesn’t happen. a wheelchair user has to have preference over any other use of the wheelchair space.

Dr Mike Casselden:

June 01, 2013 at 06:01 PM

Generally, I find staff quite helpful and friendly, although some are not. Sometimes, the bus will drive off quickly before passengers are seated so that elderly people like myself can be literally thrown about and made to feel quite vulnerable. However, recently I made a train journey to the East Midlands and making a new connection at Derby I left an item of luggage on the train due to forgetfulness. The station supervisor phoned the train and arranged for the item to be taken off at the next stop in Birmingham so I could go and collect it from Leicester where I was staying. On the other hand, a year ago, returning from a stay in Leicester, the first train was late so that the later connection was missed. We took the next available train as I understood was our right and the ticket collector on the second train rudely humiliated me in front of my wife and the other passengers by claiming that we had no right to be on the train and ought to be paying for more tickets. I stood my ground and we travelled on, though as an elderly, disabled person I was very upset and stressed—which did my unseen epilepsy no good. I later raised this issue with my MP and had Ministerial confirmation that we were entitled to continue our journey. In that case, some more training in customer care was needed and, again, there must be a national code of practice in place so that the staff of the different train companies respect the needs of all their “customers” including those with seen and unseen disabilities.

donna brain:

June 01, 2013 at 02:09 PM

my son has autism, he constantly loses his zipcard, it has cost me over £100- in replacement cards,bus drivers don,t often recognise that he is vulnerable and issue a yellow ticket, instead making him get off and walk or wait till some kind driver lets him on. I was very cross when he was not allowed on the bus one morning when it was snowing and given the time and the fact that he was in uniform it was obvious that he was on his way to school


May 31, 2013 at 04:18 PM

Southern Rail staff are incredibly mean and rude, as are London Underground staff. I am autistic with learning difficulties and London Underground staff have flatly refused to help me as apparently only blind people are eligible for help (according to them) and they don’t help anyone else. I have had panic attacks on the underground and have been trembling and crying and the staff just ignored me and didn’t care.

Once I had a partial seizure on London Underground after passengers bullied me and I was literally screaming for help and a staff member approached me and just laughed at me in my face. I phoned up and complained and just got told off for needing help and told that some autistics don’t need help and that I was a bad and lousy autistic if I needed help and they refused again to help me saying they only help blind people.

Southern Rail have waged a campaign of bullying against me for years. Staff are rude to me and refused to let me through the staffed ticked barrier (I can’t use standard automated barriers as I’m dyspraxic and cannot move through them quickly enough and get stuck). When I make complaints the staff just argue with me and have a go at me, reducing me to tears. They have also asked me highly inappropriate and personal questions about my disability and said they wouldn’t let me book assistance unless I answered these offensive questions.

When I book assistance from Southern Rail, no-one ever bothers turning up to assist me and one member of staff in particular has been targeting me for years. I’ve made 9 complaints about him but still he bullies me and Southern do nothing.

They also have very confusing online booking systems that I can’t use and staff refuse to help.

Once I had a panic attack at a Southern Rail station and was screaming for help and staff just turned their backs on me. I made a complaint about this and was told that Southern conflate distressed behaviour with disruptive behaviour which is highly offensive as the two are very different and distressed passengers need help, not punishment.

Southern rail have admitted they give staff no training in supporting passengers with autism, mental health issues or who may be distressed and they seem proud of this glaring ommission.

Southern rail hate autistics and I don’t know why they keep being given the contract to provide rail services when they treat autistics so badly.

Michele Henderson:

May 31, 2013 at 02:40 PM

As a wheelchair user I have been pleasantly impressed by the support I have received from staff, both on local buses and on trains. Bus drivers have always seemed friendly and helpful when getting on the bus and dont make me feel rushed or that I am being a nuisance when they need to put the ramp out.

I have also used the assisted support when travelling on trains and again the staff have always been helpful and pleasant. I have never been made to feel a burden or that the support is forced from the staff.

SAY (Self Advocacy Youth) Group at Connect Advocacy, Gosport, Hampshire:

May 31, 2013 at 12:26 PM

We think staff should have more training about people with learning disabilities and autism. They should understand that we ask a question about a bus route because we want to know the answer and we get anxious.

That’s why we ask a driver to tell us when we are arriving at a destination; otherwise we miss our stop.

Having a bus pass lets us be independent but some bus drivers don’t accept the bus pass when they should and we have to make a fuss—we know our rights.

The Eclipse buses tell us when we are at a stop—there should be more of that system on buses.It is difficult to use a ticket machine at some train stations. There should be staff to help us or better still, someone at the ticket office so we can ask questions too. We do not always have carers with us.

Generally we have had good experiences with flight attendants on aeroplanes.

Terri Baker:

May 31, 2013 at 10:18 AM

I Manage a User Led Organisation, listening to views from people in wheelchairs who use huses on the Isle of Wight. There is a single provider of the Bus Service and they have provided buses to the required accessibility way beyond time.

However the problem lies within the bus drivers not accepting responsibility of ensuring that people in a wheelchair wanting to access the bus have the right to do so if there is another person sitting in the accessible wheelchair space, be this a mum with a buggy or an adult with no disability. This has caused many disabled wheelchair users in bot being able to board the bus and with the Island being exremely rural waiting for the next bus which may be hours. we have investigated the rules for bus drivers and there seems to be clear guidelines in the rules for the driver that it is their responsibility to ask the person in the seat to move not for the disabiled person to ask that person, if that person then will not move, create confrontation, embarassment for the wheelchair user and they may have to leave the bus. This is not acceptable, there needs to be a change in wording to the Department of Transport Guidelines that drivers “must” ask people to move not “should” and there needs to be more clarity for customers on why it is important for them to keep the disabled wheelchair spaces available and that buggys must be collaped signage.

Bournemouth People First:

May 31, 2013 at 09:25 AM

Bring back inspectors on buses. Most staff are very friendly and do not treat me differently becasue of my learning disability. The staff on trains are freindlier than staff on buses I find. Some staff are very good, some are rude.

Cynthia Easeman:

May 30, 2013 at 07:11 PM

I live in rural Norfolk and our Coasthopper bus is very good, the drivers are happy to stop if they see you wanting to get on the bus and if you ask them will shout out your destination. he other day I asked to be let off at Asda South Wooton and the driver stopped between stops said there is a gap in the hedge, go straight through and you are in Asda’s car park, he also shouted Asda before we reached it. These drivers are given training, I suspect the town buses may not be so VIP friendly. Awareness getting the driver to swop places (blindfold them) with a VIP passenger and let them realise how difficult life is, on e they have e peri ended this they will understand and help.

there must be a difference between staff with no training or experience that disabled travel brings unless they have a family member with problems or had good training, maybe with a VIP person and even a guide dog or wheelchair.

Robert Potter:

May 30, 2013 at 07:07 PM

East Coast network Rail staff—excellent.

Buses: mixed experiences, some drivers hepful others no idea.

Taxi drivers: generally willing but largely untrained and don’t know how to help.

Chris Dugdale:

May 30, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Good at Airports, okay if you can find someone at Rail Stations. Very poor indeed on buses especially Stagecoach which seems ot have a very poor customer service culture.

Henry Sherlock:

May 30, 2013 at 10:39 AM


On the whole I find most bus drivers very good. However, there are many who let the operators down. Some don’t lower the bus in order to get on. Some don’t speak and according to my family they sit there pointing to the ticket scanner and waving their hands about. When I speak to them asking if they could put my card on the machine they snatch it and grunt. Not a good impression. It’s not my fault I can’t see. Some set off before I find my seat and some forget to tell me when to get off. However, it is a shame to ignore the good drivers who do a great job. I think by ensuring all drivers are trained with a disabled person in real life situations, the better the service would become. Employ disabled people as advisors and trainers, then you may deliver your service in the right way.

Bus station

In Falkirk I can honestly say that I have never been in such a disgraceful bus station in my life. The facilities there are nil. Not even a toilet.. Not even shelter from elements as it is open. The bus drivers congregate in one area and even when they must have seen me struggling to find my bus stance, they never offered assistance. When I shouted for help, the only help I got was from members of the public. One lady told me the drivers stood outside looked around at me and just laughed. Shame on them.

The bus station falls well out of line with the Equality Act and no one does anything to address the issues. I have in the past worked with the bus depot staff, but the same old thing comes back “not enough money”. Strange when they make millions of profit. The inspector at the bus station sits in the office and to be honest, makes no effort to ensure his depost is running properly. He allows buses to park two or three abreast. There are signs to state passengers should not enter concourse at any time, yet passengers have to in order to board and alight the bus. I have been dropped off on the concourse many a time and left to wander between buses trying to find the entrance to the bus stance. Looks like health and safety is at risk too.

train stations

The biggest problem here is trying to find support. Most are unmanned now or they are limited. In the big stations it is hard to find your way safely around. sighted assistance is always required. Although most staff are helpful they never seem proactive. They should be able to recognise that someone needs help, especailly when visually impaired. Even if they approach and identify themselves and they don’t need help, it does instil a feeling of security. Knowing that someone is there to help

Susan Jones:

May 29, 2013 at 09:20 PM

I think there can be a big difference between staff who are expected to assist disabled people as part of their job to those who you may just encounter. There is a huge difference between those staff who have had some form of training and those who haven’t. Tyne & wear Metro customer facing staff have under gone vision awareness training from a community Interest company called eye wish Access, which is a Dpulo. The v. I’s passenger experience since this training has improved immenseley, not because the staff were bad but they didn’t have the confidence or knowledge of how to approach and support a visually impaired person properly before the training. I find in most cases the member of staff is trying their best but some can be very patronising without realising it and others just don’t understand what can be a hazard to a v.I. The problem is visual impairment isn’t the same for everyone so what one person can do another can’t. Vision awareness training highlights amongst other things the variations in loss of sight and how that impacts on what a person can and cannot see. Talking to members of staff who have assisted me on the metro system they have enthused about this course saying it is one of the best they have taken part in and so relevant to their job. Maybe this is the type of training other companies should think about

Paul Smith:

May 29, 2013 at 09:18 PM

When travelling by bus I usually get no assistance and rarely does the driver ask where I want to be off and even when I ask they tend to forget. At bus stations I have rarely been offered any help.

I once travelled on the London tube and was offered every assistance even although I had my wife and son with me. I didn’t have to pass through barriers or anything and we were guided to our platform.

Access in Dudley:

May 29, 2013 at 08:42 PM

Our group reported various experiences; some good, some bad.

Some reported drivers refusing to deploy ramps on buses for wheelchair users, stating they hadn’t been trained to use the ramps.

A member (who is visually impaired) also reported that she had not been informed when she had reached her stop even though it had been arranged before hand.


May 29, 2013 at 06:24 PM

relating to train suffer with physical and mental health issues. I look perfectly normal, i have disabled railcard, i get tired easily and long travel can be leave me aching to bits all over, but what gets me angry is when there is problem on the line, they can clearly see that i am distressed, i have been asked if i am ok, but i was told that someone was going to make sure that i would get a seat, then we were all told to go over to the other platform, we were all given the run around.

i don’t ask for help with my bags ect, as i get extremely anxious letting other people handle my stuff.

Its hard, but what i find really difficult is the last minute changes.

when i traveled back on the train after i was in bad way, from being assaulted, no one asked, but one or two of the staff, kindess meant so much to me, i think it would help staff if they had training from a mental health organisation like Mind, just because you look ok, doesn’t mean you are, i have come across some very nice staff, when i have been in a terrible state, i do find though its difficult when things get crowded, my local bus service is terrible though.

David Seligman:

May 29, 2013 at 05:18 PM

Wheelchair user here. Travel widely in south east England on my own. As this enquiry

draws to a close. I would like to make one final point. Traveling long distances alone in a wheelchair requires tremendous courage even after doing it for 5 years. You never forget your great vulnerability both physical and emotional. So when things go wrong like nobody with a ramp to meet you on the station platform, or a bus driver on an hourly service who refuses to put the ramp down, it is upsetting and discouraging, and if you are waiting at a bus stop in the rain, there is the possibility of becoming so cold you get ill. So we don’t just want kind words we want binding rules and regulations to ensure we always get the assistance we need.

Geoff Smart:

May 29, 2013 at 03:33 PM

One the whole I have found both train station staff and bus drivers to be qite helpful. The bus drivers in my local area of Newcastle Upon Tyne are friendly and have been very helpful towards me. They will usually ask me if I would like to know when my stop is coming up. I find staff helpful at train stations if they are around on the platforms. I have had a number of bad experiences when booking assistance on trains. It seems to work if you are travelling locally or only have one train to catch. I travel up and down the country with my Guide Dog to meetings and to visit friends and family. This often involes catching a number of various connections. Almost every time I have booked assistacnce it never turns up. When travelling by rail I rely on the public’s help. I think that overall staff are helpful and well informed, but I think that staff assistance at train stations should be better implemented.

Cliff Beevers:

May 29, 2013 at 02:47 PM

As a registerd blind user of local transport for many years I would like to lobby for better communication on buses.

Automatic announcements on buses would allow blind and partially sighted people to use buses with more confidence. This needs to be done sensitively so that sighted bus passengers are not bombarded every few minutes with the news that the bus is bound for destination x. Perhaps special seating is necessary where headphone provision is available for those with sight loss.

Bus driver training also needs to be improved. Whilst most drivers are happy to tell visually impaired people when they have reached the correct stop this is not universal . Often simple things like pulling the bus up to the kerb or waiting until the person has sat down before moving off are not consistently applied.

I hope these views can be taken into account.

Chris Miles:

May 29, 2013 at 02:45 PM

I am a blind gentleman who uses a guide dog to travel from Loughborough to work in Leicester. I travel 4 days a week and generally either use Arrivi buses or the Skylink bus run by Kynch (Trent Barton). My experiences are as follows:

1.When an Arrivi bus arrives at my usual destination the bus is very often away from the kerb (about a foot away) and I usually have a height of abouta foot to eighteen inches height difference between the top of the kerb and the bus entrance. When I alight I always use a long cane which stops me from falling into the road and this also stops me from going underneath the bus platform and therefore falling into the bus which has happened to me in the past. At no point has the bus driver either helped me onto the bus or dropped the ramp or even informed me of the bus number or whether there is a gap or what the height of the platform is or in which direction the bus is situated.

2.When I arrive at the bus driver’s cab quite often they do not communicate with me at all and I am left talking to the driver asking whether they need to see my bus pass but still get no answer.

3.Sometimes I have not found a seat before the bus starts up and goes off.

4.Sometimes when I try to get off at my stop in Leicester there are other passengers standing in the way of the exit and I have to push my way through to get off the bus.

5.The bus driver does not inform me where I need to get off.

6.When the bus stops for me to get off I have to use my cane again to make sure that there is no gap between the bus and the pavement. I also sometimes discover that the bus has stopped very close to a post and if I do not use my cane I would walk right into the post.

7.Again the driver does not drop the ramp for me to alight.

8.When catching my next bus in Leicester to South Wigston I sometimes find that the Arrivi bus is unable to stop at the bus stop because there is already a bus in the stop and it pulls up in the middle of the road (Charles Street) and in this occurrence I have to walk into the middle of the road and try to get onto the bus with a very high step.

9.Again, when I reach my destination the bus driver gives me no assistance, and does not tell me where I am and whether there is a gap or whether there are any obstacles like other passengers catching the bus.

10.Another problem I encounter is when using the bus station in Leicester (St Margaret’s) there is no tactile markings on any of the automatic doors so I have to rely on other passengers to inform if I am at the right door.

11.When catching or alighting buses at St Margaret’s bus station I am unable to walk straight into the bus as buses cannot drive right up to the entrance and therefore there is always a gap to find the bus entrance.


Although audio discribed buses will help blind and partially sighted passengers to know where they are on the route they are travelling along, I feel that the most difficult thing is to know when the next bus is going to arrive at the bus stop that you are waiting at and which bus number it is and as quite often Arrivi buses are out of service, how long will the next service be before I can hopefully stop the bus with my arm and hand out.

Skylind bus drivers are usually much more helpful as they tell you sometimes what the gap is between the bus and whether you would like help to find a seat.

I do hope that the above points will assist you in asking the minister to get bus drivers better training in assisting a blind or visually impaired person to have a better experience when travelling by bus.

I do not know whether you are also looking into bus passengers who use a wheelchair. In my experience Arrivi bus drivers still do not consider disabled persons as special individuals and they have to struggle to get on Arrivi buses; in lots of cases the bus does not stop at the kerb edge and they do not automatically drop the ramp so that the wheelchair user can get onto the bus. In the St Margaret’s bus station wheelchair uses cannot get onto a bus; they have to go outside the bus station and alight on the bus as then only the bus can let their ramp down.

At the end of the day when you are blind you never know what bus is going to come along and whether THEY JUST GO STRAIGHT ON BY AND LEAVE YOU STANDING AT THE KERBSIDE.

Margaret Hutchison:

May 29, 2013 at 02:36 PM

I would refer back to my earlier comments regarding reinstuting bus “conductors” & giving more staff/visual awareness training by Bus Operators in how to assist V.I.P.s (ie the importance & possible impact their actions/non action can have to the safety of a vulnerable person.

It is very important that Bus Operators are pro active in all areas of “Customer Care” especially for the disabled “community”.

Katherine Harrison:

May 29, 2013 at 02:30 PM

As a visually impaired regular public transport user with a working guide dog I wish to add my own views on this matter.

Public transport is essential to the independent mobility of blind and partially sighted people who are unable to drive. Buses in most parts of the country are currently inaccessible to people with sight loss.I live in a rural community with a limited bus service which is currently about to be reduced even further!! Without this bus service I would be totally reliant on the help of others, a huge impact on my personal Independence which I value greatly and need to maintain as much as possible. However the bus service is currently not as user friendly as it could easily be for sighted and visually impaired people by installing AV announcements.Regular location announcements would mean that all the stress and uncertainty would be taken away and also the reliance on others to assist would be reduced. These AV announcements would also aid sighted people who also struggle at night too and in unlit areas such as my home area which has no street lighting to locate where they are.An added bonus.

AV announcements on buses would allow blind and partially sighted people to use the bus service with confidence and bring buses into line with other modes of transport such as trains and trams.I am also a regular train user and have no worries in connection with knowing my location and disembodiment places as AV is already up and running on these.

Bus driver training also needs to be improved. Some drivers refuse to tell visually impaired people when they have reached the correct stop. Others don’t undertake simple things like pulling the bus up to the kerb or waiting until the person has sat down before moving off. Buses pulling up at a bus stop behind another bus so not actually going to the bus stop is a regular feature on my bus route and the cause of missed buses which only run once and hour!! Additional training would be extremely helpful here.

Betty Blatt:

May 29, 2013 at 02:27 PM

My experience of staff assistance on the whole has been good but there have been occasions when I have been let down. For instance, I had arranged with station staff that I would be met at Wimbledon. Staff were notified what train I was on but the meeting did not happen and I went on to the next stop where my Guide Dog lost his footing and nearly fell under the train. Thankfully the dog was not injured but I was very shaken. I, with the help of the public got myself back to Wimbledon. The Staff were apologetic and because I was so upset, got me a taxi home. for which I was extremely grateful. The outcome could have been so different. An incident such as this would be enough for myself and my ?Guide Dog to lose confidence when travelling on transport.

Finally, if I might make a suggestion. When I was on holiday, I was aware that the bus drivers did give myself and people with walking aids time to sit down before moving off. I appreciate time constraints but this is just common sense and health and safety I think?


May 29, 2013 at 02:23 PM

Taxi drivers often open the back door behind where they sit—this is most unhelpful as it would be a huge risk to sit some clients directly behind a driver—drivers often seem oblivious to the possible danger they are in

Charles Nicol:

May 29, 2013 at 02:19 PM

This is very problematic in Glasgow. very often, when waiting for a bus and all other passengers, at the stop, have left, my bus comes along and simply drives past me, since I do not have my hand out to stop it. The obvious difficulty is that I cannot physically see the bus approaching, so how can I have my hand out to stop it? I always have my guide dog with me and he is very visible. Most drivers see the dog and just ignore it, rather than pulling up at the stop and calling out the number and destination of the bus.

Many of our bus stops now have electronic boards, with estimated arrival times for the next buses, however, this is of no use to blind people, who cannot see it and who do not have means of accessing it audibly. Therefore, they have no means of knowing when their bus is physically approaching them.

Buses, generally, do not pull up properly at the stop, often stopping yards away and expecting passengers to walk to them. This is extremely difficult for blind people and, if they are guide dog owners, the dog is obviously trained to wait at the bus stop itself. If another bus comes along first and the one I’m waiting for is just behind it, often my bus just cuts out and overtakes the stationary bus, with no regard to whether people might be waiting for it or not.

Buses, more often than not, pull away before people can sit down and this, again, presents a great difficulty to those who are infirm on their feet or for the visually impaired, who are trying to find a seat.

Many drivers cannot be bothered calling out that they are approaching a particular bus stop, when requested to do so by a visually impaired person. When drivers change over, at points along the route, they do not pass a message to one another that a visually impaired passenger has requested to get off the bus at stop X. For this reason, many such people miss their stop and find themselves stranded.

I trust that the above experiences from Glasgow will contribute to your debate and will inform the Minister for Transport. The reason why many disabled and visually impaired people do not travel is due to the lack of proper, accessible, transport provision. In many ways, a few simple steps could solve many of the difficulties referred to above.

Kay Morgan-Gurr:

May 29, 2013 at 02:07 PM

Each train company has it’s own way of being notified about assistance—all are complicated on line forms that do not cope with browsers set to large print. But no form is the same—Fist Capital Connect form is a very difficult one to navigate—but at least it works.

No one seems to have a phone line to do this now! I rang the helpline to plan a step free journey and was given wrong information, and a journey with 6 changes!! I told them a better way with one change and got the reply “Oh yes.....” It didn’t help that her accent was so pronounced she had to keep repeating herself to be understood.

The online plan your journey doesn’t cope with large font—with half the info disappearing off the edge of the page.

When travel is a struggle—talking to a knowledgable person fills you with confidence. An online form that you can’t read doesn’t!

I have to travel to London on business regularly. Travelling from my home in the midlands means most areas I need to go to are not accessible by tube.

I often opt to travel from the South, Driving down there to do other meetings first.

Each train company is different—I have found first capital connect the best, especially the staff at Hassocks station. Southern are the worst with little or no understanding. East Midland trains are hit and miss, the Leicester end being good, the St.Pancras end being very unreliable (I sometimes have to send a fellow passenger to get help for me)

My worst experience was when I booked assistance at London Bridge, but due to an “Incident” the train terminated at Elephant and Castle—TOTALLY inaccessible and miles from where I needed to be. I was given no help at all. Thankfully I was using my manual wheelchair and my husband was with me. A painful walk upstairs followed, where I found a helpful traffic warden who showed us to the correct bus stop. The bus driver didn’t put the ramp down and my husband had to man handle the chair onto the bus.

Let’s put this bluntly—I hate travelling in London.

Mrs PM Derbyshire:

May 29, 2013 at 01:50 PM

Staff when pinned down can be helpful but it’s not easy. We are often met with a shrug of the shoulders which leaves us frustrated, upset and annoyed. Having a long term disability myself it seems at times that services are taking steps backwards, I am constantly made to feel that I am a nuisance and tolerated only because of rules and regs. Many people assume that because my legs don’t work properly that the brain is impaired. Things have improved greatly for my Husband since the arrival of his Guide Dog but the transport systems Help scheme leaves a lot to be desired—such as “the train you need goes from Platform 2 mate” but don’t bother to say where platform 2 is located before they turn around.

Sarah Howard:

May 29, 2013 at 12:35 PM

I have found assistance staff very good however have encountered great problems when there have been transport changes and when I’ve had to change at stations, information doesn’t always get through. Also when accessible toilets broken this info has not been passed on causing huge problems. I saw a train have to stop at unscheduled point, get a wheelchair user off the train to use a toilet, he said this had happened on many occasions. Also people putting their luggage in wheelchair spaces is huge problem, happens all the time. Not always enough space for friends to sit with their wheelchair user friend or colleague.

Sophie Aston:

May 29, 2013 at 09:55 AM

I am Visually Impaired and use a guide dog. I have had mixed experiences, good and bad. I use the train to get to work and the staff at these stations are fab. I use Crawley and Horsham for the work journeys and the staff are friendly, helpful, assist me on and off the train and out the station every time. The staff guide correctly but i am happy to instruct when they are uncertain. It would be good if all staff had sighted guide training when they start. When i have booked assistance for a long or new journey the staff have also been good. Sometimes they are not there to meet me, but it’s not very often and this is usually the london stations. There was a member of staff at liverpool street who was not helpful on the 24th May at 7 pm. I was with a Friend who also is partially sighted. I had my Guide Dog on one side and being guided by my friend who was pulling a suitcase. It was not particularly easy and my Friend asked this staff member to open the big gate please but they responded “Do it yourself, that’s why we have the big gate.” The underground is also quite mixed. When i’ve travelled alone, they have been great. They meet me off the tube train and help me to the next or out. However, once when i asked the escalater to be stopped as there was not a lift, i was refused as it would inconvenience too many people. I ended up getting a taxi which was stressful as i am not confident in london at the best of times. this happened at Angel station. Generally i am more confident traveling by train than bus. On the buses drivers have fogotten to let me know my stop and i’ve missed it. I’ve been told the wrong stop and this is the most stressful and frightening thing. The bus drivers can tend to start driving before i’ve sat down which causes me to stumble. Equally some bus drivers are very nice and try to help as much as they can but i still find using buses my least favourite method.

Joanne Welbon:

May 28, 2013 at 11:09 PM

Buses are a nightmare, I walk 2miles to work everyday totalling 4+ to avoid buses. They don’t stop, even with a guide dog by my side hold an illuminous pass. When they do stop the drivers have been pleasant but have very Poor english and couldn’t understand my request, thankfully an elderly gentleman assisted me and said he would tell me when to get off, I was collecting my little boy from school it was an important journey. I don’t trust them, at least my dog knows where we are going and he’s not let me down, posh shoes in a bag and trainers on feet, much safer.

Mark White:

May 28, 2013 at 10:28 PM

As a service dog user, I find train staff in London to be very helpful in telling me how to get to where I need to go and when the trains I need will be in.

On buses it is a different story as driver will often drive off before I can sit down and get my dog settled. There is a major problem with opened pushchairs being left in the disabled seating area and drivers never ask people to fold them and very rarely stop further pushchairs getting on. To a degree I can understand this, as I’ve witnessed the mouthful of abuse drivers often get if they do dare to tell someone to fold their pushchair as people now feel it is a right rather than a lucky opportunity to push their pram straight on, often a huge one hung with shopping bags. But someone does need to take responsibility to sort this out and I think stopping open pushchairs getting on altogether may be the only solution as long as LT continues to refuse to employ conductors.

Linda Oliver:

May 28, 2013 at 09:42 PM

I am blind and a guide dog owner. As I can’t see body language e.g pointing etc, I rely on hearing and communicating with the driver. However this can be difficult if the driver doesn’t speak clearly, perhaps because of English not being their first language. I often find it very difficult to find a seat and difficult to balance when the bus is moving, as I have shopping bags in one hand and my dog’s lead in the other. Sometimes the bus has not stopped for me as I have not put out my hand to stop it because I didn’t see it coming. This has made me late for hospital appointments. I would love to travel further than my own High Street, but would not know when to get off.

For all these reasons, I think driver training in sight loss is really important, though I believe this should be the same training throughout the UK and should be manditory.

John Alistair Lyle:

May 28, 2013 at 05:29 PM

Bus staff the quality of service varies quite significantly with most drivers not giving a hoot. Whereas the station staff are quite considerate.

I can not say a bad word about train staff, they have always taken great care of me from the moment I enter the station, through traveling on the trains till I exit the station at my destination.

I only ever fly with B.A. due to the great care they take of both me and my dog, it is a pleasure to fly with them. Airport assistance, well it can depend on who is sent to collect you from the plane (when they remember!!). I have had to do a “Benny Hill” like chase through terminal 5 because the guy from airport assistance was afraid of dogs, he had my hand luggage which contained my dog’s food and he was trying to keep a gap of at least 25 feet between himself and the dog. Well there was no way my dog was letting a stranger take off with his food. There has been one occasion when they did not appear (always terminal 5) and it was on my return from the Netherlands so B.A. put me into their business lounge, you can’t fault B.A. they know how to take care of their customers.


May 28, 2013 at 04:57 PM

Our members said that they prefer to be able to talk to a real person—not a machine!

The style of driving employed by some bus drivers could be improved, for example, avoiding sharp braking. They need to be more aware of people who are unsteady on their feet.

Staff should have compulsory training to make them aware of different types of disabilities, particularly hidden disabilities like autism. Staff should be educated about how difficult travel can be for people with disabilities. A DVD to explain people’s experiences of travel eg someone arriving at a busy train station to make a connection but who can’t read. Or a person who uses a wheelchair having to find help at an inaccessible station. Local self-advocacy organisations like CLASP can deliver training.

We think travel cards are a good idea—they explain the person’s disability and how they communicate. We’ve seen variations of the card but should be national and widely available and recognised. Staff need to be aware that some people need more time and things broken down.

Local authorities should invest more in travel training!

Assisted travel should be reliable. One of our members said they had called the “Assisted Travel” line to book help in advance but help didn’t materialise.

One of our members asked for help after trains had been cancelled. They felt more confused after speaking to staff. They would have preferred to have been shown where to go, rather than just told.

When we had the Olympics, they had Gamesmakers at train stations who were easy to identify and could offer help. Could something similar be offered at train stations, particularly the bigger stations?

Andy Bull:

May 28, 2013 at 04:46 PM

1. Public transport is essential to the independent mobility of blind and partially sighted people who are unable to drive. Buses in most parts of the country are currently inaccessible to people with sight loss.

2. AV announcements on buses would allow blind and partially sighted people to use the bus service with confidence and bring buses into line with other modes of transport such as trains and trams.

3. Bus driver training also needs to be improved. Some drivers refuse to tell visually impaired people when they have reached the correct stop. Others don’t undertake simple things like pulling the bus up to the kerb or waiting until the person has sat down before moving off.

I am a totally blind person and have had to write to Stagecoach head office on numerous occasions, informing them when their driver has failed to stop at my particular destination. Despite their assurances they still forget so Audio announcement for me and many other visual impaired public transport users this would be key.

steve ward:

May 28, 2013 at 04:44 PM

not always assistance availably .unless you book a trip in advance

Debby McCallan:

May 28, 2013 at 04:43 PM

I have received the following email from Guide Dogs Campaigns and felt I should respond.

Since losing my sight 7 years ago I have not been on a bus, which I used to use daily. I now rely on rare expensive taxi journeys, using vouchers where I can, but would much rather be able to use busses.

my reluctance to use busses is due to not having confidence in being given any help I would need and lack of understanding from drivers, ranging from not stopping so I could easily get on, not being helped to a seat and not being told when my stop was coming up.

Anything wich could help accessibility to busses for the visually impaired would be greatly appreciated.

Ian McClenaghen:

May 28, 2013 at 04:34 PM

It is not always that a bus can get to the kerb but I have met up with some drivers whom have told me that they will get me to the kerb and will join a line of buses who are letting off passengers or are picking up from that stop. They have been told to pick up and set down only at the kerb. Full marks.

However starting off before passengers and in particular visually impaired ones Aare properly seated is inexcusable and any accident to a passenger who is not seated and befalls an accident should loose his job.

I would add security cameras, 14 in number on each bus record all parts of each bus as it is on route. This recorded visual information has proved very useful in keeping the travelling public safe and sees that the driver is doing his job properly. This information is removed daily and carefully stored. You can use your imagination as to the usefulness of such video information which our local bus company uses.

A running commentary would be useful to all passengers visually impaired or sighted and drivers should be encouraged to do their job properly and be as helpful as they can to the passengers they take from one place to another.

Colin Fisher:

May 28, 2013 at 04:32 PM

Following a message from Guide Dogs I am writing to express my views about the difficulties of using public transport, in particular buses, for the blind and visually impaired population.

I am totally blind, a guide dog owner, and live in Lancaster. When travelling by bus it is first of all impossible to know which bus is approaching a stop and some form of verbal notification at bus stops would be immensely helpful.

I have travelled on buses in London where the current stop is announced, followed by the final destination. Such information allows a blind person to travel with confidence and be sure of the stop at which to alight. I am not alone in being carried past my desired stop with all the incumbent dangers this involves. Installation of audiovisual announcements could and should be incorporated into all new buses and into those in current use as and when possible. Strangers to an area as well as those with poor or no sight could benefit.

Awareness training for drivers would be an interim help, but no substitute for a mechanical device and staff do have many demands on their time.

I do hope that these remarks will encourage the Transport Select Committee to put searching questions to Norman Baker the Transport Minister and result in positive intervention in the near future.

Genene Henshaw:

May 28, 2013 at 04:18 PM

Hello i think there needs to be more traininng for the local buse compnise. The bus drivers are not very helpful they do not seem to relise what its like to have to take your guidedog right to back of the bus, because there are no space at the front of the bus, because young mums take up the space where guidedogs are trained to go. Also they are not reliable to tell you where a stop is, if it is somewhere strange to you.

Andrew Johnson:

May 28, 2013 at 03:22 PM

Most drivers do help with giving vision impaired customers their tickets but you still get some who don’t. As for getting a seat when the bus is busy (and sometimes when it’s not) there has been alot of times when I have had to stand with my guide dog next to me as the disabled/elderly front seats are taken by young customers/mothers that wont move.


May 28, 2013 at 02:36 PM

When using trains, I book assist so that I do not have to worry about getting on and off the train.

Do staff have Disability Awareness Training, so that they know the best practices in assisting somebody with a disability? If they do have the training, does this include practical training?

Mark Williams:

May 27, 2013 at 11:21 AM

While at the Olympics last year, most of my journeys (eg London buses and the Dockland Light Railway) were very good, but on going back to Paddington from my hotel to catch a train home, I was advised to go on the tube part of the way. A member of staff told me that there was a lift for me to get onto and out of the tube station. Unfortunately, what they did not tell me was that there was a huge flight of stairs to get to both lifts, and if it wasn’t for a very kind member of the public who helped my personal assistant to carry me up the stairs in my chair, I would still probably be stuck underground now!

Bristol Disability Equality Forum, a disabled person led organisation in Bristol that campaigns for disability equality.:

May 27, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Regarding Private Licensed Vehicles and Hackney Carriages in Bristol, the overall effect of the existing legislation and the fact that most taxi drivers are self-employed is that Disabled people are disadvantaged. Under the laws, they have no right to expect a local private hire company to offer an accessible service to them. Hackney Carriages that are required to be accessible cannot be pre-booked and have to be “flagged down” or picked up from a taxi rank. In practice, wheelchair users living outside the city centre have ad hoc access to taxi services. Experiences include: 1) Not being able to get an accessible private licensed vehicle in school start and finish times because there are none available. 2) Being able to get to a destination but being unable to book a return journey at a reasonable time (eg being asked to wait two hours or that “they’ll see what they can do”). 3) Not being able to go out in the evening because there is no vehicle available. Most private licensed vehicles are self-employed and can choose when they work. This impacts on Bristol’s attempts to diversify the night time economy in the city centre to prevent anti-social behaviour and binge drinking, for example. It also infringes on freedom of movement and association.We recommend a change in the law to require private licensed vehicle firms to provide a basic accessible vehicle service. In the meantime, all firms should complete an annual audit of the number of wheelchair user journeys taken by such firms, or a secret shopper system to assess the accessibility and service of the Hackney Carriages. At the moment there is no way of assessing whether the legislation for Hackney Carriages is being adhered to.

Catherine Walsh:

May 26, 2013 at 06:33 PM

Had a very poor experience in Manchester Airport yesterday. I was one of 4 passengers booked for assistance on 1 flight. My main disability is a heart problem which limits my walking distance and ability to deal with luggage, I was met at the gate by 1 lady who had the 4 wheelchairs. As she was on her own she asked if my partner was ok to push me to luggage reclaim and gave me very good directions, no problem. Until we had our cases. my partner now had me to push, his case on me, both our in flight bags on me trying to pull his own case. One passenger assisted us to the next information desk. The person behind the desk a woman was on the phone and immediately turned her back on us. We waited patiently, eventually she turned back to us. we explained what had happened and that we needed assistance to get to the rail station. she asked if we had told assistance this. we siad assistance had been booked but we had done what we could as the lady had another 3 to deal with, she eventually agreed to ring customer services on our behalf. She said she couldn’t say how long we would be, that I would probably miss my train. She looked up the time of the next train agreeing that wouldn’t be good as there was a change. It also was not the train I had booked and reserved seats on. So we had to get to the station as best we could me 5 feet then the case 5 feet. she may have been information not customer services but I object to being someone else’s problem. 1 assistance for 4 when previously booked is clearly not enough, this I note is not a problem in Cuba or Lanzarote where people are happy to assist. I am a civil servant and have a front facing/customer service rule. This attitude and penny pinching when it comes to the disabled embarrasses me—we are all paid up customers

David Worth:

May 24, 2013 at 07:09 PM

Most ROCs have a good service for disabled, however some are unavailable when the station is unmanned and with assistance booked prior to travel some train staff are rather cautious on helping, the odd one raises H&S

Franklin Brady:

May 24, 2013 at 07:07 PM

I have found that on some occassions when i have asked for help when using public transport staff have not always been very helpful as I have what some people would say a hidden disability. Even when I have used my guide cane staff haven’t always been helpful. On some occassions they have but I do feel more awareness and training needs to be put into place. Disability comes in all shapes and sizes and different spectrums and staff need to be educated on that just because someone like myself looks like I have perfect sight it doesn’t mean its the case. I think staff need to understand more about hidden disabilities. I do appreciate that staff cant be expected to know everything about disability thats where training education and awareness comes in to implement change for the better.

Nicola Mills:

May 23, 2013 at 03:05 PM

Most members were confident that they could ask a bus driver for information and would get a good response (members know about the travel support cards). They would also ask staff for help if somebody was rude to them on the bus.

The travel support cards should be issued to all people with disabilities

People can be very rude—there should be more police on the buses.

Members agreed that it must be hard being a bus driver sometimes and that most of them do a good job. There were some examples of times when drivers had not behaved well though.

Drivers should stop people getting on buses with alcohol.

Drivers should not allow beggars on buses.

It would be good to know if staff have training about people with learning disabilities

michelle challens:

May 23, 2013 at 08:45 AM

Trained,Visual, “would you like help” not patronising, hidden staff has always been the best strategy. New Street Station havent got this right—staff wearing black jackets, stood at white booths offering help. Staff wearing bright Pink tabards in high contrast locations who are not scared to ask if help is needed.

Clare Buchta:

May 22, 2013 at 01:55 PM

When I go on the bus with my autistic daughter sometimes we get comments from the driver that she does not look very disabled when we use our bus pass which allows us both to travel. She looks normal but is completely incapable of finding her way around alone. She cannot nterpret timetables and is extremely vulnerable to being mislead by others and has no road sense.maybe the bus drivers need training for these invisible di sabilities as its very upsetting and I do not know what to say sometimes. Most people do not understand what autism means

Philip Booth:

May 22, 2013 at 12:49 PM

The following are some of the comments were made by people with a learning disability looking at transport issues in Gloucestershire. This group has met several times with the County Council and are working together to seek a number of improvements:

“I tried to make a complaint but the staff did not write it down.”

“Some staff don’t understand people with a learning disability—they shout at us or are rude, they don’t stop passengers being rude to us.”

See comments in previous submissions re bullying and lack of action.

“We hope to be involved in training the bus drivers.”

“We liked the London Bus Drivers Book and hope that will help Glos drivers—we are talking to teh County about it.”

“It is not just learning disabilities but drivers sometimes try and hurry people—some old people can’t do fast things.”

“There should be an easy way to complain when someone is rude—like a telephone number.”


May 20, 2013 at 04:24 PM

I am profoundly deaf in both ears and often find the staff in London—TFL and South Western Trains very unhelpful and lacking deaf awareness. For example I cannot hear annoucements and often struggle to find a member of staff around to help me and when I do find a member of staff they don’t really rely the message properly to me and often I ask them to repeat what has been said. They often get frustrated and annoyed with me when I ask them to repeat themselves.

carol campbell:

May 20, 2013 at 09:38 AM

very diverse everything from excellent performing well above what you need to appalling, rude and on one instance deliberately giving me incorrect information because he did not like my dog.

good examples—vergin trains customer care, excellent, always make sure there is space for the dog, get you coffee if no seat service, staff very aware of how to deal with the visually impaired appalling example—a london bus driver telling me the incorrect bus number because he did not want my dog on- a member of the public told me what he had done taxi drivers—a number of taxi drivers don’t like taking a guide dog, this is a particular problem out of london, although one london driver dropped me off in the wrong place on the other hand the i find the traditional london “cabbie” very helpful, understanding, they help you in make sure the dog is ok, a real pleasure i am sure that more emphasis on staff training would be helpful—ensuring staff take one blindfold journey would probably make a huge difference.

i do think that bus drivers need more training in monitoring what is happening on their bus. i was on a bus with a friend and one passenger started hitting another passenger, my friend helped the man who was being hit to move seats. when the man who was hitting people got off a “carer” came to get him—clearly sitting in a different part of the bus—

Elisabeth Abbott:

May 19, 2013 at 06:20 PM

The level of assistance offered is erratic. You have to give at least 24 hours notice with most companies and it does not always get passed on to staff at the end of the journey. Trying to find staff on large mainline stations is incredibly difficult especially if like me you have a visual impairment. More often than not staff are too busy with there own conversations to bother with disabled passengers needing gates open or directions. their level of spoken English often makes it difficult to understand or be understood. When it does work it is generally good.

sam heaton:

May 17, 2013 at 04:10 PM

the knowledge and awareness of staff i find to be very hit and miss. now i’m a guide dog owner i have to say bus drivers, station staff etc have been brilliant. however i was registered blind for 2 years prior to getting a guide dog and my experiences then were very different. i didnt look blind and staff re-acted differently. people are still judged on their visual clues- cane/assistance dog/wheelchair- hidden disabilities just don’t receive the same response.

Ella Findlay:

May 16, 2013 at 05:16 PM

On a recent return journey from London to Farnham I was alarmed by the reaction of members of South West Trains staff to myself as a wheelchair user. I was with my boyfriend who was able to assist me with the journey boarding and alighting trains and as I am fortunate to have use of my legs, just a limited degree of strength and energy available, we manage well with the limited access available. My final train was departing from Clampham Junction so when the train arrived at the platform we made our way onto the train and I took a seat in a very quiet carriage and parked my wheelchair in a clear space next to the toilet.

No sooner had we settled in our seats when we were disturbed by a member of staff informing me that I was not in the correct carriage, puzzled I was informed that the disabled carriage was further down the train and I must disembark and make my way to the correct area for wheelchairs!!! As I didn’t comply another member of staff was sent to me to explain again to which I replied I was quite happy where I was. The original member of staff returned with bluster muttering something about responsibility and lawsuits.

Five minutes later as the train was moving again my wheelchair was approached by the train steward and he turned to us almost embarrassed and asked “is this you?”, clearly I replied “no, that is my wheelchair”. He went on to inform me that I aught to have called in advance so that they were aware of my needs. Puzzled, again, I explained I needed nothing from him or the station unless he knew something I didn’t. Bubbling up with outrage I ignored any further comment and resigned myself to the fact that Disability Equality has a long way to go if people and organizations can’t cope with even the presence of a wheelchair without prior knowledge.

It really is unfortunate that from all of the losses I have experienced from M.S. an incurable disease, it is the loss of enjoyment from spontaneity that is imposed upon me by the lack of accessible service provision.

Anne Taylor:

May 15, 2013 at 04:20 PM

I find London Transport trains awkward to get in, but the staff at a local station did come and assist me and one station has ramps on the platform so it is easier to get on. My local BR station is not wheelchair accessible so I would have to get bus to train station nearby. Also there are not many stations accessible near me so I tend to use taxis.

Jamie Dowling:

May 15, 2013 at 11:49 AM

In my experience staff attitudes and disability awareness are extremely poor.

I no longer travel on London buses after repeated occasions where drivers drove with no regard for the safety of their passengers. On one occasion I needed osteopathic treatment to repair the damage a London Buses driver caused to my lower back by repeatedly driving at speed over speed bumps; the bus company responsible refused to pay for that treatment.

It is not only London buses whose drivers have poor attitudes. A disabled friend in Nottingham regularly has problems with Nottingham City Transport drivers who refuse to stop for her when she is in her wheelchair or refuse to move people from the wheelchair area in the rare event she does get onto the bus. NCT have assured me via Twitter that “Yes we’ve invested significantly in buses and staff to provide an accessible network.” but I do not believe them when the reality of the situation is markedly different. I note that my friend advises me that Your Bus staff have a far better attitude towards wheelchair bound passengers.

Despite holding the Paralympic games, many areas of London are still remarkably backward in its approach to assisting disabled passengers. I have witnessed Southeastern staff at Victoria Station ignoring disabled customers approaching the disabled gates, preferring to lark about and chat with their colleagues. On one occasion a Southeastern member of staff was too busy larking about with his colleagues and jumped into me.

A number of rail and tube staff (Victoria rail and tube, Charing Cross rail, London Bridge rail and tube) resent allowing disabled people through the disabled gates, preferring to try and funnel them through able bodied passenger gates. Once I saw a Southeastern member of staff watched a passenger struggle to get to the disabled gate and fall over, doing nothing to come to their aid. Another Southeastern member of staff at Victoria snorted at me like a teenager when I insisted on their opening the disabled gate for me. These kinds of attitudes and behaviours are totally unacceptable. This from a company which has been given awards for its customer service.

Based on my experience mentioned earlier, there is a marked difference in awareness and attitude between staff whose role is assistance and staff whose roles are more general. Southeastern staff are some of the grumpiest and most unhelpful I have encountered anywhere, in any sector.

If you are employed in customer service then you should be aware of the likely needs of your customers. It is not rocket science to realise that disabled passengers may need more assistance than able bodied passengers. Southeastern does not have a real customer service culture. If it did then why have the experiences detailed here happened?

A clear commitment to, monitoring of and financial penalties for not reaching challenging training targets is required for all public transport operating companies, whether bus, coach, train or tube. Where a company fails its disabled passengers, clear action points must be put in place and genuine apologies plus compensation provided. Financial penalties should increase if similar issues recur.

Public transport companies make a lot of money out of their operations, whether from government subsidies or paying passengers. It is time that they and their staff were held accountable for the services they provide and the attitude they show.

Linda Curran DL:

May 15, 2013 at 10:00 AM

I have a disabled persons rail card and a bus pass. My disability is hearing impairment. I find that staff are not trained in deaf awareness. Older trains do not have station stop info and it is impossible for me to hear announcements. The ones with digital do not repeat the audio messages on the screen so I am often left not knowing what is going on if there is a delay. In stations the announcements are useless to me so I have to rely on screens. The ticket offices rarely understand that I can’t hear very well. Bus drivers appear to have no deaf awareness training.

Bridgit A Sam-Bailey:

May 14, 2013 at 09:17 PM

My physical challenge is not advanced, but I have difficulty accessing stairs. I find the seats on the buses too low, or there is not ample leg room. GThe drivers do not have time to attend to the needs of physically challenged passengers, and fellow passengers are not always accommodating.

M. Proudman:

May 13, 2013 at 11:29 PM

The stagechoch bus drivers can sometime be unhelpful to people in weelchair acesses, and for people who have difficulty walking, and care should taken to express changes in the time table to local schools and colliges (to people who require extra planing have the abilty to do so)

Jeanette Dodd:

May 13, 2013 at 05:08 PM

I use an electric wheelchair and therefore require ramps at all stations. Hence when I needed to travel to London for a wedding on 16th March 2013, I pre-booked tickets and assistance.

My personal assistant (PA) and I boarded coach J at Euston Station on the 2100 train to Crewe. We took our reserved seats and were not too concerned when the train started to run late. By the time we pulled in to Crewe station, however, we had approximately five minutes to get to our connecting train to Chester.

My PA alighted and began looking for the member of staff with the ramp, but there was no one on the platform. She ran towards the guard from our end of the train, waving frantically, but was ignored. Sitting by the door of the train, I had no way of contacting a member of staff as the “speak to the driver” button is situated high up to the left of the door—impossible for a wheelchair user to reach. The doors closed and I was left alone on the train as the train departed for Manchester. My medication, toileting items etc., were with my PA at Crewe, and I had the travel tickets and the keys to my vehicle, which was parked at Chester.

Fortunately, I had some battery left on my mobile “phone so was able to text my PA to re-assure her. I had difficulty, however, in getting Virgin Trains staff to come to my assistance. I kept pressing the button next to my seat, which was supposed to alert someone, but there was no response. Unable to move down the narrow carriage in my wheelchair, I finally attracted the attention of the steward who had served the tea and coffee. He alerted the train manager but his reaction to immediately ‘blame the passenger’ made me think that perhaps this was not an isolated incident. Several times I was told that I must have done something wrong when booking the assistance. I kept repeating that I had not and even had the paperwork (8 page confirmation emails) to prove it. I had printed these out prior to travelling, but the documents were in my bag, which was with my PA at Crewe station. Not once did anyone apologise, or adequately respond to my concern that my PA was going to have to continue the journey to Chester without a ticket.

Arrangements were made for me to alight at Stockport and get a taxi back to Chester—this was not the next station (Wilmslow), but the next station was not managed by Virgin Trains, so for some reason this meant I was not allowed to alight there. I alighted at Stockport on a platform without shelter in snowy conditions, immediately becoming wet and cold. Unfortunately the security man who met me said that they had only received notification of my arrival a few minutes earlier, so the taxi could be a while. He was right and after about 20 minutes, I began to feel ill. This was exacerbated by the fact that I did not have any medication with me and was unable to use the toilet without my transfer board. The taxi finally arrived, but there was no shelter so I had to board the vehicle in the snow and make a cold and uncomfortable journey back to Chester.

At Chester I was reunited with my PA, who was visibly upset. This was a wholly awful experience for both of us, leaving us with colds and anxieties about a forthcoming trip to London, again using Virgin Trains. I cannot understand why:

1.The ramp was not provided at Crewe station;

2.Train staff were not alert to someone waving in distress on the platform (what if someone had fallen getting off the train?);

3.There is no emergency communication procedure for disabled passengers;

4.No apology was made, but an assumption that I had not booked assistance; and

5.The safety and comfort of disabled passengers appears to be such a low priority.

Anthony Turtle:

May 13, 2013 at 01:15 PM

Booked assistance for my wife who was using a wheelchair via Southern Railways to Gatwick Airport. Got to Hastings station, the assistant grabbed the suitcase from me (on crutches) and led the way up the ramp leaving my wife and I behind. The train manager had to push my wife onto the train.

At Gatwick, the person assisting her was grumpy about pushing her across the booking hall to the Gatwick Airport Assistance people.

The same sort of treatment by Southern Rail happened on the way back.

Our “Invisible” ailments seem to make us invisible to many people.

Ms Rachel Hand:

May 13, 2013 at 12:52 PM

I use the rail system from time to time. I have MS and my needs vary. I am also 35 which seems to be a big problem for the special assistance staff: they are always looking for a white haired elderly lady and have been known to go off without me. Either that or they just don’t turn up.

I have an idea of how to implement and run an effective Special Assistance service for the rail network, but have been unable to find anyone willing to listen until now. All that is required is a basic data entry program, such as Access and a program which enters the details of the disabled person on the train with a brief description and exact details of their position on the train and when they will be arriving at the next station where assistance is required.

This is such an easy thing to fix and yet the current service is still so poor: my parents drove me from Southampton to Milton Keynes to get the train to visit my Godparents, just so I didn’t have to change. I am not well enough to be abandoned on a station platform.

Garry Knight:

May 12, 2013 at 11:05 PM

As I have a Freedom Pass and still have some mobility, I don’t often need the help of the staff. Having said that, some of the staff at Charing Cross station recognise me and are ready to let me through the wide gate as soon as I get there or even before. And the ones that don’t recognise me are very helpful.

There is (or was) one man at London Bridge station, usually working at the gate in the entrance near Tooley Street, who tries to insist that I go through a regular barrier which is difficult for me. On the two occasions that this has happened I’ve been able to get the assistance of another staff member. But this man really needs to have disability awareness training.

Unfortunately, I don’t know the man’s name, nor if he is still working at London Bridge. But I do know that he has done the same thing with other disabled people, and I’m sure some of the other staff know who he is.

Rebecca Thomas:

May 11, 2013 at 04:56 AM

My Mum and I traveled by Easyjet to Nice to see her brother last year. We both require assistance as find walking very painful. It took a LOT of time and energy to assure assistance would be available and I went through our issues several times with different members of staff over the phone long before the day of our flights. On arrival at Gatwick, with heavy luggage, we had to find our check in desk and could not find anyone to help get us there. We queued, standing for ages, only to be told as we had booked assisted travel we needed to be at a different desk! By this time we were both in considerable pain, however were told that our “assistance” did not start until after passport control!!! Basically our pre-booked assisted travel consisted of a ride from the duty free shopping area to the gate, were we where dumped for nearly 2 hours without access to food, water or toilets. Nice Airport was a whole different set up! We were assisted everywhere in wheelchairs, nothing was too much trouble and out feet never touched the ground. It’s so sad and our experience at Gatwick was not only upsetting, but left us both in considerable pain, ruining the first few days of out trip while we recovered.

David Seligman:

May 11, 2013 at 12:40 AM

Most bus drivers in London are reasonably helpful. Very occasionally you experience one who deliberately places the bus in a position too far from the kerb, so the ramp cannot be lowered. Outside London experiences are less good. I have used Abellio Buses in Surrey quite often. Most of the drivers are abrupt and off hand and one refused to lower the ram p for me when I tried to get off the bus.

Most rail staff are again helpful or very helpful. A weak point is Waterloo Station (South West Trains) where despite having booked assistance in advance, often there is no one with a ramp to meet the train. Staff on Southern Trains especially at Clapham Junction can be quite rude. Despite the busy nature of the station they do not appear to have ramps for Type 442 trains that stop there on route from Brighton to London Victoria.

Dawn Mckenna:

May 10, 2013 at 09:25 PM

Some are amazing, most are not. I’ve had drivers treat me like I was mentally subnormal, ignoring me to talk to my carer instead. One major thing is the amount of staff who’ve grabbed my wheelchair, I know they’re only trying to help but my wheelchair is much as part of me as their leg is and I doubt they’d like to have their leg grabbed by a well meaning stranger without so much as a by your leave.

Another is staff who deploy ramps without checking to make sure that they’re not parked across a level access, such places can make ramps too steep, I’ve nearly been tipped forward onto my face as my carer wheeled me off due to that happening.


May 10, 2013 at 03:35 PM

The drivers on the buses in Norfolk are very unwilling to put the ramps down for me the say the ramps are broken or I can not put it down because I have a bad back.

And as for the trains if you book to go from one station and then find that there is another nearer to where you are you are not allowed to change I happened to go up to Manchester for a two day conference (and as the hotel was near Manchester airport because all disabled hotel rooms were full) my carer and myself had to travel from Manchester central which was near to the conference centre back to the airport station to board the train to get home incidentally the same train stopped at Manchester central but we could not get on there because as we had booked from the airport not knowing that the central station was near and the person to put out the ramp was there we were not allow to change but someone else at the conference a able bodied person was able to get on the train at the central station.

P Cassidy:

May 10, 2013 at 03:25 PM

I have observed some lovely staff offering assistance. The worst was DELIBERATELY pulling up to a bus stop—with the bin in front of the doors and passengers cannot get off the bus or new passengers get on the bus!

Peter Lockhart:

May 10, 2013 at 01:45 PM

Many Stagecoach drivers are unaware of the problems of wheelchair users. Stagecoach assure me that their drivers are trained but the reality is different. I often have to explain to drivers how to use ramps. Drivers don’t even seem to know the rules about letting wheelchair users onto buses when there are pushchairs on the bus. I have been refused access to buses because two wheelchairs were on, I have even been refused access when the wheelchair space was free.

Eric Day:

May 10, 2013 at 01:27 PM

Train assistance is improving but training is needed as I am often tolde to follow me, not much use being blind. Bus drivers offer no assistance at all and don’t even tell you they are parked way away from the kerb.

Ann Richardson:

May 10, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Sometimes announcements are made on trains and buses, as I am HOH it is confusing for me to be suddenly heading the wrong way or in the train on my own as everyone else just gets off and I’m not aware why. I know Train and Bus operators need to make last minute or adhoc decisions but it is upsetting to be deaf and a member of staff on the train or platform would help as they could make sure people with hidden disablities are made more deaf and blind aware.

Prepared 13th September 2013