Disabled people unaware of free support for public transport discrimination

Charities have urged disabled people to make use of free government advice to help combat discrimination on public transport, as research shows it is an issue two thirds of disabled people in Yorkshire have faced.

Multiple charities have voiced concerns that not enough disabled people are aware of the new funding from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which offers legal advice and support for disabled people when complaining about transport.

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The scheme aims to help in resolving complaints, including offering advice and help with correspondence, or provide funding for legal support.

Despite frequently having problems with public transport, very few disabled people report it, research by disability equality charity Scope has found.

A quarter of disabled people have experienced problems getting onto a vehicle, however, only 14 per cent complained every time.

A further quarter had experienced negative attitudes from staff but only 13 per cent complained.

The main reason disabled people tended not to complain was that they thought nothing would happen or change as a result, followed by not knowing who to complain to.

Ceri Smith, policy and campaigns manager at Scope, said: “It’s great news that the EHRC will be holding companies to account over their failings.

“Scope research shows two thirds of people in Yorkshire have experienced problems using public transport in the past year, but many are not making complaints because of confusion over their rights.

“We would also like to see a passenger charter, enshrining exactly what disabled people should expect on all modes of transport and what to do if they need to make a complaint.”

Harry Roche, an ambassador for the learning disability charity, Mencap, said he thought it was “a great idea and more people should know about it”.

Mr Roche has had trouble with train services in particular, especially where there is no support from staff.

“My local station is too small and not accessible for people with disabilities, particularly wheelchair users. When there are delays on public transport, I get anxious as they don’t give you many updates and I’m worried I’m going to be late for work. When I was on a bus recently, someone got angry with me because I was sitting in the disabled seat. My disability is invisible compared to others, but it shouldn’t mean that I’m discriminated against. There is always more room for improvement when it comes to disability rights, such as training for all staff members on public transport.”

In a recent survey, Mencap found anxiety around using public transport is one of the main reasons people with a learning disability gave for feeling reluctant to get out and about, which the charity called “a worrying finding”.