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Disability & public transport. Working for you? - Page 4 - Carers UK Forum

Disability & public transport. Working for you?

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Paraplegic man drags himself through airport.


The image is shocking: Justin Levene, a paraplegic man, dragging himself along the floor through Luton Airport after his self-propelling wheelchair was left behind on a flight.

As he hauls himself through the arrivals hall on his backside, other passengers seem oblivious.

Staff had offered to push him on a rigid high-backed chair but he refused as he felt it removed his independence.

He is now suing Luton Airport - which says it is satisfied with its response.

At the age of 20, Justin, from north London, coughed and herniated a disc. An operation to fix the problem went wrong leaving him paralysed below the waist and reliant on his self-propelling wheelchair.

His disability has not held him back. Far from it.

Justin says the airport's failure to provide him with either a self-propelling wheelchair or a motorised buggy left him with only one viable option - to drag himself along the floor for hundreds of yards.

When he reached the exit of the terminal, he hauled himself on to a baggage trolley and used his hands to push himself along the ground to his taxi.

Justin's athletics career means he travels widely and he has a custom-made wheelchair with a cushion to reduce pressure sores.

He acknowledges that mistakes do happen, and wheelchairs can be left behind, but he has never faced a situation like this.

Sue Willman, a partner at Justin's solicitors, Deighton Pierce Glynn, says the case "isn't really about money, it's about access to justice".

"It's time for Luton airport and other transport providers to be a bit more imaginative and enable disabled people to travel on equal terms with non-disabled passengers."

Meanwhile, Svetlana Kotova, from the disability equality charity Inclusion London, said it should be possible to provide assistance "in a way that promotes our independence".

"We are customers too and we should be valued and treated with dignity and respect."

Until the next reported case ?
A related issue ... access ... when shopping :

Disabled shoppers bring shop accesibility into question for Purple Day.

November 13 has marked the first Purple Tuesday - a day dedicated to raise awareness of shopping accessibility for those living with a disability.


Businesses in Lowestoft joined more than 700 others across the country in helping to make shopping easier for people with disabilities.

November 13 marked the first Purple Tuesday - a day dedicated to raise awareness of shopping accessibility for those living with a disability.

Margaret Oldham, of Lowestoft, set out on the high street donning a two piece purple velvet suit to discuss store accessibility.

The chair of Lowestoft Shopmobility and D.I.A.L said: “One in five people have got some sort of disability. We make up 14pc of the population.

“The main focus of this is asking shops, offices and public buildings to do just one thing each to make their property or service more accessible to people with disabilities.”

The former business owner said most stores are so built-up with stock it is near impossible to navigate.

Mrs Oldham said even when you do make it through the store “there is no turning space” for someone in a wheelchair.

But it is not just people with a physical disability who are unable to do their shopping, those with visual impairments, who are deaf or have hearing difficulties also find the task taxing.

People with learning difficulties can also struggle to go for a basic shop because of the store layout or lack of understanding from the sales assistants.

Mrs Oldham said: “Legally and under the equality act - it is our right to be able to go in to the store.”

“Do they ever realise how much they could help people with learning disabilities such as autism,” she said.

In the lead up to Christmas, Purple Tuesday brings to light the values and needs of those with disabilities ahead of the busiest shopping period.

The objective of Purple Tuesday is to see long-term commitment to improve the shopping experience for disabled customers.

According to organisers, the collective spending power is worth £249 billion to the UK economy - but the full potential isn’t being met because of the lack of store and online accessibility.

Companies such as Asda, Argos, Marcs and Spencers and Sainsburys have signed up for the initiative and have committed to a long-term improvement in online and instore accessibility.

Imagine YOURSELF in Margaret's position.

How easy is it to shop in what's left in your high street ?

Perhaps needing a local bus or train to visit ?

The local car park ... fourth floor ... and a lift that your wheelchair doesn't fit into ... or out of action ?

If ALL shops on the high street had to conform to the Equality Act , how many one man shops would be left ???????
Halifax Paralympian Hannah Cockroft disgusted after alleged Qatar Airways wheelchair " Baggage " charge.

Halifax paralympic athlete Hannah Cockroft has said she was “ Absolutely disgusted ” after claiming an airline charged her hundreds of pounds to take her wheelchair on board because it was “ Classed as baggage ”.

Using Twitter, the ten-time world champion wheelchair racer and Paralympic gold medallist spoke out against Qata Airways on Sunday.

She said: “Travel agents got permission [for us] to travel our wheelchairs on the flight, [we] got to check in and [we were] told they won’t take it without a £700 extra charge, as our wheelchairs are classed as baggage too!”

She went on to describe the alleged incident as “discrimination at its absolute best”.

Ms Cockroft, who has been contacted for further comment, was travelling with fellow athletes Nathan Maguire and Jack Agnew, but it is not clear which airport they were using or where they were travelling to.

A spokesperson for Qatar Airways said that “this matter has been forwarded to our Customer Care team for investigation.

“We are unable to comment any further at this time.”

Ms Cockroft, 26, won gold medals at the London Paralympic Games in 2012, racing in the T34 100m and 200m events.

She went on to also record gold in the 100m, 400m and 800m races at Rio in 2016.
" It's 2019 not 1919 ! " Northern slammed for treatment of disabled passengers.

Northern says it can't accommodate passengers with mobility scooters that don't fold.

Train operator Northern has been criticised for treating disabled passengers "appallingly", after it emerged a pensioner couldn't board a service because of her scooter.

The customer was told she was unable to get on a Featherstone to Leeds train because her mobility vehicle didn't fold.

The incident was brought to light at a full council meeting by Labour member Graham Isherwood, who took up the lady's case.

Northern confirmed its policy currently prevents unfoldable scooters being brought onto a train because "there isn't space". It said that the situation would be reviewed when it starts using a new fleet of carriages in the years to come.

But Coun Isherwood said the situation was "appalling" and called for the government to step in.

"The way Northern treats disabled passengers is absolutely shocking," he said.

"This elderly lady came to see me at my surgery on her scooter.

"For years, her only joy was being taken to Leeds by a friend once a month. They'd have a tootle round Leeds, and then come back on the train and come home again. But now she can't.

"If it's a wheelchair that's fine, but if a disabled person using a little shopper-type scooter and they can't fold it up themselves, they're not allowed on.

"I thought, "This can't be a policy," so I checked up with Northern, and it turns out, yes it is."

Coun Isherwood said he had written one of the under-fire company's new directors to complain about the situation, to be told that the policy may only be changed when Northern starts using more modern carriages in 2021.

He added: "It's an absolute disg

"Surely the government should be looking after our most vulnerable people."

In response, a spokesman for Northern said: "At the moment, the only mobility scooters we can take on our trains are those that can be folded and carried on as a piece of luggage.

"This is due to the restricted manoeuvrability and stability of mobility scooters and the design of our current trains. Most of our trains were built before mobility scooters were introduced and so were not designed with them in mind.

"Our train crews are happy to assist with loading and unloading a folded scooter. We participate in the industry-wide Passenger Assist programme and encourage customers who may require assistance when travelling on our services, to contact us before they travel on 0800 138 5560 to see how we can help.

"As we continue to work to upgrade our train fleet, we are focused on improving access for all."

Strike action will disrupt Northern services again this Saturday, having taken place every weekend since last September.

Welcome to the train sevice in the North of England.

Most " Southeners " scratching their heads in disbelief ???
Strange ... only passed by there yesterday ... on me way to Castleford !

Disabled passenger has to make seven-mile round trip to reach his destination.


A disabled rail passenger is unable to get off at his own station because one of its platforms doesn't have wheelchair access.

The Northern customer can't leave the train at Pontefract Monkhill Station when travelling from Wakefield towards Knottingley, because passengers exiting from Platform 2 can only leave via a set of stairs.

The issue was brought up at a meeting between passenger representatives and rail operator Northern on Thursday by Wakefield councillor Matthew Morley.

Coun Morley didn't name the passenger, but said action should be taken to improve the station.

The issue has been raised before, by campaigner Brenda Reevell, who called for improvements in 2015.

Coun Morley said: "At Pontefract Monkhill, there's no disabled access as you're going away from Wakefield.


"The gentleman has to go all the way to the next stop at Knottingley, change trains and come all the way back to Monkhill, because the Wakefield-bound platform has disabled access.

"Is there anything that can be done about this?"

In response, Northern's stakeholder manager Pete Myers said that improving disabled access was a matter for Network Rail.

Mr Myers said: "The responsibility for making stations accessible falls to Network Rail.

"They are trying to do this generally, but it's a long process.

"We nominated a list of stations recently where access could be improved, and then it's up to Network Rail and the Department of Transport to decide where gets prioritised.

"A number of factors come into play on that, one of which is footfall and the number of people using the station.

"I suspect Pontefract might fail because of footfall."

Last month it was revealed that a disabled pensioner from Knottingley was left stranded because Northern wouldn't take her unfoldable scooter.

The company has said their policy prohibits them on its current fleet of trains because of a lack of space.

Mr Myers admitted the situation was "ridiculous" but said he hoped the policy would eventually change when new pacer trains arrive in Yorkshire.

The company had previously said this would be either next year or in 2021, but has recently been increasingly vague about the timescales.

Mr Myers said: "We've a very simple policy, and that is we don't take mobile scooters on our trains unless they can be folded.

"If they can be folded we'll assist people to take them on as we would with luggage, but that's the rule.

"Why is this? Well the answer is mobility scooters are stand alone vehicles in their own right and they operate in a different manner to wheelchairs.

"The policy varies between operators. I know it's very frustrating when passengers get off an East Coast train at Wakefield Westgate and they want us to take them onto their next destination and we can't."

Disabled passengers unable to get a train can order a taxi at Northern's expense if they contact its customer service team.

But Coun Morley was unimpressed.

He told Mr Myers: "I know this isn't an easy fix situation. The problem with what you're saying is that other operators are catering for scooters, which suggests there's ways round it.

"It must be utterly frightening if you're an elderly couple and you get off your train Leeds Station and then you're left stranded. Are you then doomed to spend the rest of your life just rolling around Leeds Station?"
There are loads of access problems at railway stations in south London. Take Brixton rail station: both platforms up a flight of stairs - yet Brixton underground, just round the corner, is a very major interchange to the underground network. Other stations not so far distant include:
- one where you have flat access to both platforms, but it's a half-mile walk/push on the flat to get from one to the other if you can't use the footbridge;
- several where both/all platforms are at the top of flights of stairs, with no lift;
- one which has flat access to one platform, but only stairs down to the one for the opposite direction (missed a trick there, not arranging for access while a housing development was built right next door);
Admittedly, Network Rail is trying to do what it can to improve access, and has consulted on priorities, but it's still slow progress - and obviously putting in lifts isn't cheap.

Plus there's the problem of what to do when the lifts are out of action, of course.
There was the time a few years ago when caree and I decided not to bother getting a cab back from the doctor's surgery, but just get the bus. They're supposed to be every 8-12 minutes. In the course of 1 hour, 4 buses came along. Two had ramps which didn't work (they're not supposed to be allowed out of the garage like that, but realistically, if you were management would you take them out of operation at great inconvenience to all the other bus users, just on the off-chance that a wheelchair user might want to travel?), and the other two were filled up with the dreaded buggies.

The other day, we got on a bus which only had a small wheelchair space. An elderly passenger had one of those really big hefty cuboid shopping trolleys which are maybe 18 inches square on top, sitting in the wheelchair space. We had a major struggle to persuade him that actually, no, we couldn't manoeuvre the chair into the space unless he moved it. The trouble is that even when buses have wheelchair spaces they don't necessarily have enough room for everyone else to shift around so that a chair can get into it. I know that buggies are supposedly only tolerated if the space isn't required for a wheelchair, but in reality where else do you put the buggy? There's frequently nowhere else to put it, even folded, these days, as luggage spaces get sacrificed so that a couple of extra seats can be squeezed in. And you really can't ask the person with the buggy to leave the bus - they have as much right to travel as the next person.
Disabled access improvements at 73 railway stations.

Disabled access is to be improved at 73 rail stations in Britain as part of a £300m investment, the government says.

Lifts and adjustable ticket counters will be among the new measures brought in over the next five years.

The changes, part of an "inclusive transport strategy", will also help passengers with health conditions, and those with children or luggage.

Abergavenny, Dumfries, Grays, Liverpool Central and Wandsworth Town are among the stations chosen.

The Department for Transport says the sites were selected based on a criteria which included their usage, level of local disability and value for money of the work.

Transport accessibility minister Nusrat Ghani said: "Transport is vital for connecting people with work, friends and family, but also to enable them to enjoy visiting some of the wonderful cultural, historical and natural sites across the UK.

"We want the 13.9 million disabled people in Britain to be empowered to travel independently".

Since the Access for All programme was launched in 2006 accessible routes have been introduced at more than 200 stations.

A further 1,500 stations have had smaller individual upgrades including accessible toilets and improvements to help those with a visual or hearing impairment.

Keith Richards, chairman of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, welcomed the announcement but said there must also be "clear and practical information to ensure that disabled people are aware of what improvements have been made, and that more travel options are now possible as a result".
An interesting one ... from Hull , East YorkieLand :

Closing station entrance at Hull Paragon is " Absolutely bonkers " says council leader.

The side entrance to Paragon Station which will be shut for seven hours a day for three months in a bid to stop anti-social behaviour.


A trial closure of one of the entrances to a station in a Yorkshire city has been blasted by a council leader as “absolutely bonkers.”

The side entrance at Paragon Station, backing onto Anlaby Road, in Hull, will be shut seven hours a day during a three-month trial by TransPennine Express, which manages the station, from June 17, to improve security, with customers diverted on to Ferensway.


Classical music will also be played and extra security laid on in a bid to deter low-level anti-social behaviour.

However council leader Steve Brady said it was placing a “huge burden” on elderly and vulnerable people, and was “cracking a nut with a sledgehammer”.

The car park, as well as dropping off points for private hire taxis and other visiting vehicles, are next to the side entrance, meaning travellers will either to cross a hotel carpark, or take a short detour round the front of the station.

TpE says there will be information posted at the gate to allow disabled and vulnerable people to contact station staff and have the gate opened for them.

But Coun Brady said: “As far as I’m concerned it is their problem to secure it - it is basically saying travellers aren’t welcome. It’s giving into all these characters.”

He added: “I want us to oppose it in the strongest possible terms. We do not want it, we do not support it and we want it challenging.”

Transport campaigner Adam Fowler said: “This is an extremely well used cut through between Anlaby Road and the station and they want to close it from 9.30am to 4.30pm, which is the busiest time of the day.

“As well as causing significant inconvenience to people using the station, it is giving the wrong message that our city centre is not safe, when it is the opposite.”

Sgt Jamie McGowan from British Transport Police said it was part of a crime reduction plan, including two extra officers, as well as additional security staff during the trial.

Sgt McGowan said he would be reviewing the results on a weekly basis and would have a fortnightly meeting with the train operating companies.

“If we are finding it not beneficial and not helping, with it being a trial it can be stopped - there’s no permanence at present.”

He said there was a lot of low-level anti-social behaviour, including begging at the Anlaby Road entrance, shoplifting and criminal damage.

“There’s a general feeling particularly among station staff, it is not a particularly nice environment to be working in.”

Area Director for bus operator East Yorkshire Ben Gilligan said the vast majority of their customers came in by other entrances.

He said: “If this has to be done we will find a way of working round it. There is a problem of anti social behaviour which needs to be resolved.”
Team GB paralympic medallist denied access to Ryanair flight after pilot " Refused " to allow him on board.

Exclusive : " It felt cruel and humiliating," says wheelchair user Matt Byrne,

A bronze-medal winning Paralympic basketball player was “refused” entry to Ryanair flight after he was told that the pilot would not let him board.

Matt Byrne said he felt “disgusted” after being told he could not get on flight from Dublin to Birmingham as he waited patiently on a wheelchair lift next to the plane.

The wheelchair basketball star – who won bronze for Team GB at Beijing in 2008 and the London 2012 games – is demanding an apology from the airline for refusing him access.

The 44-year-old told The Independent: “I was waiting on the lift to get on board when a member of staff said, ‘The pilot’s not taking you.’ I said, ‘What do you mean he’s not taking me?’ He said, ‘Because we’re running a bit late, he’s refusing to take you.’”

He added: “I don’t complain about much, but I was disgusted. It felt cruel and humiliating. It’s 2019 – you can’t have people doing that to you. It’s just wrong.”

Mr Byrne said he had arrived at Dublin airport at 6.45pm, leaving plenty of time to tell staff from OCS – the company that operates the lift for disabled passengers – that he required assistance to get on his flight at 8.50pm.

He said there had been “a slight delay of around five minutes” getting the lift ready to take him on board before he was told the pilot was refusing to take him on board.

After being denied his place on the plane, he had to wait over two-and-a-half hours to board the next one leaving for Birmingham.

Mr Byrne is paraplegic, meaning that he has an impairment in motor or sensory function of the lower extremities. Mr Byrne said long hours of chair sitting can increase the risk of pressure sores.

“The next flight was delayed until 11.30pm, so I didn’t finally get back home to Nottingham until 2.30am,” he said. “The whole journey from Dublin city centre took around nine hours. I could have gone to America in that time.”

He added: “I haven’t had a good explanation. The pilot must have seen me waiting on the lift. It takes five minutes to lift me on.”

“I’ve been all over the world to represent Team GB and haven’t had anything like this happen before. I certainly want to get apology. More than anything else, I want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Mr Byrne said he had received an email from Ryanair saying the company was now investigating.

A Ryanair spokesperson told The Independent: “While we regret any inconvenience caused, special assistance services at Dublin Airport are operated by OCS – at great expense to the airlines.”

A spokesperson for OCS said the company had no comment to make.
66 posts