Young disabled campaigners have told some of their “transport horror stories” to MPs and leading industry figures.
The Liberal Democrat transport minister Norman Baker, and bus, taxi and community transport providers attended the meeting of the all party parliamentary group for young disabled people, which focused on problems with taxi and bus travel across the UK.
Private taxi firms faced particularly heavy criticism over complaints raised about their personal experiences by members of the Trailblazers network of young disabled campaigners.
They described how they had been: repeatedly ignored by apparently available taxis; forced to rely on non-disabled members of the public to hail cabs for them; sworn at by drivers; and charged more than the standard fare because of the extra time drivers spent putting down their ramps.
They also told how they had been regularly left stranded by bus drivers who claimed their access ramps were broken, or simply pulled away if they were not at the right distance from the curb to allow a wheelchair-user to board. They stressed the need for improved training for bus drivers.
Members of the Trailblazers also questioned the minister about transport access issues.
Bobby Ancil, project manager for Trailblazers, which is run by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, said the public transport system and taxi companies had failed to “move forward enough to offer a basic service and fair standards to disabled passengers”.
But he said the meeting was “really productive”, and added: “The best thing that came out was the opportunity for young disabled people to put their concerns across and be listened to and get responses from the various companies.”
Ancil said he hoped the meeting with the transport minister would be “a solid step in the right direction, and will motivate this government to do more to address a public transport system which remains inaccessible to many of those paying for it”.
8 July 2011