Labour conference: Transport industry ‘must do more on access’


Representatives of the transport industry have been criticised for failing to do more to improve the accessibility of public transport.

John Dickinson-Lilley, RNIB’s parliamentary officer, told a fringe event at the Labour conference in Manchester that there was a need for a “genuine shift in attitudes and culture” on accessibility among transport providers.

He said it was still not possible for him to buy or pick up tickets from machines at rail stations because they were inaccessible.

Sue Sharp, head of public policy and campaigns for Guide Dogs, said the issue of the accessibility of ticket machines had been an issue for “more than a decade”.

She said: “Despite the improvements in ticket machines, it is an issue that has not been addressed.”

Edward Welsh, corporate affairs director for the Association of Train Operating Companies, admitted: “I know we could do a lot more to improve accessibility.”

But he added: “There is no doubt that things are improving. Two million people a year seek our help to get around stations. I would hope that is helpful for people trying to pick up tickets.”

Sharp also raised concerns that cuts to public spending might lead to a reduction in the “important research that underpins good policy” on the accessibility of public transport.

And she pointed to the importance of well-trained staff to the accessibility of the transport system, and the need for stations to be staffed.

She said: “We have to look at the issue of staffing. Unstaffed stations effectively make it impossible for disabled people to use the station.”

27 September 2010

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