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Travel Issues Myself and Many Other People with Cerebral Palsy and Wheelchair Bound Face

April 14, 2023

On Monday 10th April I went to go on a night out with my friend. To try and get there on time, we booked a train ticket as many people my age would do, who are not finding themselves in the same situation like having cerebral palsy and needing to use a wheelchair to get around. Because of the bank holiday, the railway provided a rail replacement bus as usual trains were not running. Me and my PA were promised that this bus would be accessible for a wheelchair bound person who is not at all ambulatory, we even phoned up special assistance, who are aware of my needs, who said they would be able to assist me at the station with staff who were working on the train/bus, depending on which one they ended up running due to the bank holiday.

When we arrived, there were no staff on the bus to be seen, as promised by special assistance, and no ramp access either, despite the bus having a clear wheelchair sign on it. There was a stationary passenger seat in front of the access door, that disabled people are supposed to be able to enter through according to the sticker on the side of it, that clearly shows a wheelchair. The door had no ramp or low-threshold access either. The driver had no idea how to use the features of the bus that he was driving. The driver stated that he was going to pick me up, from my wheelchair himself, and didn’t even offer for my PA to do it, who I know would be able to keep me safe as she is aware of my specific needs. Instead, he decided he would try to pick up someone he has never met before. Needless to say, me and my support worker looked at him in horror, and I said “have you ever heard of the disability act?” to which he did not respond, knowing he was in the wrong for not knowing how to use the features on the bus he was driving. As per the Equality Act, he should not have left the depot without making sure all passengers, including those in wheelchairs, could use the bus they were sending, regardless to whether he knew I was in a wheelchair or not. This excludes a lot of society that may use the buses to get to their employment, or go on a night out as I was doing this day.

The ticket people say they have never heard of this before, and aren’t sure what to do about receiving a refund or what processes to use. The people who do the special assistance have never heard of this either, and are trained to help people with mobility aid needs. I think this is because people just get told they can’t get on, and just give up and go away because they are embarrassed and feeling degraded by the experience. This means thousands of people may be missing out on things that are important to them, or missing out on employment or financial stability, who are not in education so have careers and employment that is paid. I feel, for me, like he had no respect for myself and my PA. Obviously my PA did not let him pick me up to board the bus, but he was adamant this is what to do and there were members of the public walking past, making this very embarrassing for me. We ended up walking away and getting on a public bus instead, with faces of absolute horror, embarrassment, and not feeling included in the service they apparently provide for passengers to get on when there are no trains. Passengers who are elderly, disabled people, or those with an illness are being needlessly excluded as there were only steep steps that people with mobility issues could not use. It looked like a bus from the 1950s that really wasn’t geared up for people with additional walking or mobility needs, but instead they advertised that it was accessible. To me this is false advertisement, what do you think? It is advertising something the bus can do, when it clearly can’t, and just resulted in disappointing and embarrassing people when they get there.

Luckily I was with an experienced PA, but God knows what would have happened had I been with a less experienced PA.

Let me know your opinions of this in the comments, and how I might be able to get my money back, if any of you in the SameDifference community have ever dealt with this alongside someone or experienced it yourself, as not sure how to deal with this to be honest! We are in 2023 not 1994, the way I see it!

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