Attitudes on Public Transport

This week, Amba from the FLARE disabled children and young people's group gives her thoguhts on how attitudes makes all the difference to her use of public transport.

Becoming independent during a young person’s transition to adulthood can boost self-confidence. This includes independent travel on buses and trains. It can be very difficult, especially when you feel you are not supported.

Although independent travel is a life skill, people without disabilities take it for granted and don’t always understand or realise how hard and stressful it is for young people with disabilities.

From personal experience, I have been doing travel training, which has been ongoing for a few months. Every time I step on any mode of public transport, I am always really scared and anxious. This is sometimes made worse by the attitudes and actions of the drivers. The drivers need to realise how much of a struggle and what a stressful experience it can be for children and young people with disabilities. It is important to remember that not all disabilities are visible.

Things that have helped me are:

  • giving me time to think and process things
  • giving me time to get my money out
  • waiting until I have sat down before pulling off

I have had a varied experience with some bus drivers being very understanding and some bus-drivers very rude.

There appears to be a lack of consistency in bus drivers’ attitudes. It would help if there was regular courses for all drivers of any public transport vehicle to help them to understand how to help people with disabilities. This should take account of the elderly and wheelchair users as well as people with hidden disabilities, in fact all passengers!

Every passenger should be respected the same amount, regardless of whether or not they have a disability!

I am not the only person has found independent travel training difficult.

FLARE recently ran a social media campaign about transport, and some of the things they said included:

“I genuinely think that people think that we shouldn’t be out alone.”

and

“public transport can create some anxiety.”

Although we have come a long way in terms of transport and attitudes to disability, we still have a much longer road ahead of us.

In Manchester’s annual bus passenger survey, people said that bus drivers are key to a ‘great’ service. According to Transport Focus, who looked at the survey, ‘time and time and time again we consistently find that the bus driver, through their appearance, greeting, attitude and quality of driving makes all the difference between a ‘good’, and a ‘fantastic’ journey.’

However, they also found that ‘some bus drivers were reported as being grumpy, abrupt and unwilling to provide much in the way of useful information to passengers.’ This is bad news, especially as this should have been a positive experience for all.

I am hoping to make contact with the local authority to find out what education currently is available to the bus drivers. I would then like to become involved in helping shape public transport in the future for people with disabilities. It may help if sessions in bus driver training were co-delivered by people with a range of disabilities.

In my area, there is a scheme called Talking Travel which is ran by a charity called inclusion north. I am also hoping to become part of this group.