This was originally published on Muscular Dystrophy UK’s website on June 19, 2018.
Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Trailblazers are helping a government advisory committee to think about how to meet the needs of wheelchair users when travelling by bus.
On Friday 15 June, Emma Vogelmann, our Trailblazers Employability Officer, met with the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) and other disability organisations to discuss the issue. The DPTAC advises government on transport legislation, regulations and guidance.
The meeting follows a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year in Doug Paulley’s case against a bus company after he was not allowed to board a service due to a mother with a pushchair refusing to move. The court said more needed to be done to persuade non-wheelchair users to vacate designated wheelchair spaces when necessary.
At the meeting, which was held at the Department for Transport, attendees discussed potential solutions to problems such as the design of buses. Ideas included creating an awareness campaign so bus drivers knew their obligations, clearer signs to make it clear that able-bodied passengers should vacate the space for disabled passengers and designing future buses to make spaces easier to access with a wheelchair.
Emma shared the experiences of fellow Trailblazers – a network of young, disabled campaigners – as part of the group discussions. Improving public transport is a key priority for the Trailblazers network. In 2016, we launched our updated campaign report, End of the Line, which identified the barriers disabled people face on public transport. Buses were reported as being particularly poor with our survey finding:
67 per cent of respondents having experienced problems getting on a bus, owing to the attitude of behaviour of the driver or fellow passengers
more than half of respondents were unable to travel on a bus because the wheelchair space was taken up pushchairs
31 per cent of respondents had been unable to get on a bus because the driver refused to deploy the ramp
Emma said events like this are essential for working towards an inclusive future:
The meeting brought up so many great solutions to common problems faced by disabled people when they use the bus. It was great to have different disabilities represented to ensure all needs are being considered.
Trailblazers Manager, Lauren West, said:
Public transport is so essential for young disabled people. Buses are often a vital service allowing disabled people to get to work or school, or just getting out and about. However, from our End of the Line report we know that there are significant barriers with bus travel. Events like this that bring together experts and those with lived experience are essential for allowing the future of transport to be as inclusive as possible.