I’m so tired of people pushing in front of me
4 December 2018
My name is Jaz and I’m a university student but working this summer in London. I’m a keen traveller and despite the difficulties with public transport I’ve lived in Brighton, Bath, London and Paris.
Disabled people are still treated like second class citizens
There is no starker reminder that disabled people are still second class citizens than when I use public transport in my wheelchair. There are two sides of the problem as I see it: one is the infrastructure and the other is attitudes of staff and the public.
Accessibility on trains, on platforms and in stations is appalling
It forces people with access needs to travel by other, often longer and more expensive means.
The space allocated to wheelchair users on trains is too small and impractical. During rush hour there is no chance of commuters making way for me to get to the wheelchair area on the underground.
Disabled people are disadvantaged
We all know that the London commute is ruthless but disabled people are particularly disadvantaged by this.
My commute takes longer than average because I have to avoid inaccessible stations and take less direct routes via the lifts.
Journey time is added when I have to wait for another tube because fellow passengers won’t pause to let me get on board. I’ve bought a bike bell for my chair because I’m so tired of people pushing in front of me.
Negative attitudes are a big problem for disabled people using public transport
Each time I make an unplanned trip I am chastised by members of staff for not booking ramps 24 hours in advance — as if anyone else would plan all their journeys this far in advance.
I shouldn’t be made to feel grateful for a transport network I can use so little of
Staff often make small talk with me about how good it is that there are lifts in Victoria now, for example, or isn’t it great that there’s flat access at King’s Cross?
But I shouldn’t be made to feel grateful for a transport network that able bodied people can take for granted whilst I can use so little of it.
I hope this campaign will start a conversation around disabled people’s access to public transport.
We need better infrastructure, better communication systems to alert people to broken lifts, and to change the assumption that we should be grateful for limited access.
Instead we should expect equal access for all. Disabled people are entitled to be treated equally and our transport system is failing us.
Jaz is a campaigner and 2018 Change 100 intern.