Everyone’s Journey AND Everyone’s Parking
For many disabled people in the UK, public transport is still inaccessible. Although infrastructure has significantly improved in the last twenty years and wheelchair users can now enjoy access to buses, trams, trains and taxis, disabled people are still 30 percent less likely to travel than non-disabled people.
One of the main reasons given by disabled people for not using public transport are the negative attitudes exhibited by other passengers, and so The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a campaign called “It’s Everyone’s Journey,” found at everyonesjourney.campaign.gov.uk, with the aim of improving disabled peoples’ confidence to use public transport.
As part of the campaign, the
government is planning on
introducing a voluntary accreditation
for transport operators.
The campaign has been backed by leading disability charities and transport operators such as British Airways. The government hopes that the “It’s Everyone’s Journey” campaign will increase awareness of the issues faced by disabled travelers and improve their confidence to use public transport.
As part of the campaign, the government is planning on introducing a voluntary accreditation for transport operators which is due to be launched early next year. This scheme will provide transport operators with the opportunity to achieve one of three Inclusive Transport accreditations which will encourage, recognize and promote inclusive design and high-quality customer service. It is hoped the scheme will encourage collaboration between transport operators and disabled people. Operators achieving one of the accreditations will be publicly recognized for their work to improve accessibility.
As a wheelchair user, I have encountered many issues using public transport. These have included booked assistance not turning up to help me off the train and other passengers deliberately kicking my assistance dog when I’m traveling on the bus. From my own experiences, it is easy to see why many disabled people lack confidence in using public transport, and so anything which helps improve this is to be encouraged. I’m also a supporter of accreditation schemes which I believe work really well in helping to drive up standards. In fact, it was my own poor experiences of using car parks that led me to set up my accreditation for the parking industry – People’s Parking.
As a disabled driver, I struggled to enter and exit car parks, pay for my parking and was annoyed by the poor layout and misuse of accessible bays. People’s Parking looks at the facilities a car park offers for everyone and whether they meet a set standard, as well as the car park’s location. Although it isn’t just about access for disabled people, the program does have the accreditation “Accessible for disabled people” and any car parks which receive this must ensure that they have made all the required improvements to enable disabled people to park with ease.
The government’s Inclusive Transport scheme is aimed at public transport operators and isn’t really appropriate for parking operators. However, this is no reason for car parks not to improve their accessibility as the People’s Parking accreditation “Accessible for disabled people” sets a high standard for car parks to aspire to. As many disabled people shy away from using public transport, choosing instead to use their own vehicle, it is extremely important that car park operators ensure their car parks are accessible.
Although one of the objectives of the “It’s Everyone’s Journey” campaign is to improve the service provided by transport operators, it also targets fellow passengers. The government wants people to be more mindful of other passengers by giving up their seats to those more in need, or being a bit more patient at the ticket barrier. Attitudinal barriers are one of the primary motivators for disabled people not traveling, and so it is important that the attitudes of other passengers, as well as operator staff, are challenged.
Although others passengers’ poor behavior has affected my confidence when traveling, I think my main issues still come from the physical and systemic barriers such as staffing and infrastructure. If my assistance doesn’t turn up repeatedly, then it definitely affects my confidence to use the train. However, I believe the Department for Transport is right to address all the different aspects which can make travel more difficult for disabled people.
So far, there has only been a soft launch for this campaign, and I look forward to seeing the impact of some of the initiatives. I don’t expect everything to be accessible instantly, but hopefully if staff and other passengers become a lot more aware of the needs of disabled people it will make for a much better journey for everyone.
Helen Dolphin MBE LLB BSc is an Independent Mobility Consultant. She can be reached at