With one in four disabled people avoiding public transport in 2021, according to the Independent, due to attitudes towards disability, it is evident there is a severe problem with transport in the UK. There are many barriers to access for people with disabilities; here are just five.

Stepped Access to Train Platforms

A frequent complaint of many people with physical disabilities is that access to platforms, stations and interchanges is hindered by poor, or a complete lack of, step-free access. Whether stations have not been adapted to include ramp access, disabled folk simply have to travel further to find an accommodating travel hub. This complaint extends to transport itself, as certain modes of transport make it difficult to board and disembark without an able body.

Inconsistent Staff Assistance

Staff that should be trained and attentive to the needs of disabled people can often be found lacking; a common example can be found in train stations, where temporary ramp access to trains often needs to be created. This involves alerting staff in advance to your arrival, and the train’s conductor adequately allowing for your boarding. But disabled people are often left wanting, as staff frequently forget, or fail to make space on crowded trains.  Added to that, two disabled people cannot always travel together by train, depending on the carriage width.  On a long journey where changes involve different operators and different types of carriage the ability to travel together is often not consistent across the passenger’s whole journey.

Lack of Induction Loops for the Hard-of-Hearing

A decreasing problem over time, but the audio induction loop was once not as prevalent as it is today. Without an induction loop, people who require hearing aids can find it difficult to navigate loud and busy interchanges and transport links, having to rely on lip-reading to get by; an even less adequate solution in an era of increased mask usage.

Poor Support for Invisible Disabilities

Not all disabilities are visible; and not every transport service seems to understand it. Ramp access and induction loops are helpful, but for people with neurodivergences such as autism and Asperger’s, navigating loud and claustrophobic environments can prove near-impossible without causing severe distress. Transport infrastructure does not commonly support the safety of neurodivergent people, where quiet zones with muted sensory elements would be a bare minimum.

Public Attitudes

Not only are negative attitudes towards disabled people still rife in the 21st century, they seem to be increasing. This shock report details the commonality of stereotyping and abuse in the general public, something evidenced by their behaviour when a disabled person attempts to access public transport. Tuts, sighs and rude remarks while a ramp is brought out to enable disabled access are a regular occurrence, and cause untold mental strife to someone with just as much right to travel as everyone else on that platform.

How to Address These Issues as a Disabled Person?

Ultimately, it should not be down to disabled people to advocate for change in transport on their own terms; it should be a collective change, adopted and embodied by a supermajority of the population and of transport boards. But in the meantime, while pressure groups continue to lobby boards for change, for many disabled people the best route to independence and accessible travel is to travel by car.

Where public transport is not ideal for someone with a disability, often the most effective solution is to join a motability scheme, whereby a disabled person can utilise their mobility allowance to lease a new, accessible car for travel purposes. This negates the need for public transport entirely, enabling people to travel on their own terms, whether driving an adapted car or having a family member drive the vehicle.