People with learning disabilities continue to face problems accessing public transport, with cost, availability and a lack of understanding of their needs by drivers and passengers all major concerns, a survey has found.

The survey of 2,000 people, conducted on behalf of learning disability charity Brandon Trust, shows 74% think public transport providers do not do enough to make travelling accessible for people with disabilities, while 1 in 3 think the Government should be spending more time looking into public transport issues faced by people with disabilities.
Worryingly, 17% of those questioned had witnessed bus drivers or transport staff being insensitive to the needs of others.

The survey results coincide with the launch of Brandon Trust’s report 100 Voices On Transport at a House of Commons reception hosted by Bristol North West MP Charlotte Leslie.

Written for and by people supported by the charity as a result of its September conference, 100 Voices on Transport outlines public transport-related issues and offers possible solutions, along with case studies.

Common problems outlined in the report include: a continued lack of accessibility to public transport, from difficulty boarding a vehicle to issues using timetables and route signage; cost and availability, and a clear lack of understanding of the needs of people with learning disabilities from other passengers and bus drivers. 

The report also highlights fear of mistreatment as another major factor pushing people away from using public transport regularly.

But the report also looks at solutions including improved disability training for transport staff, introduction of easy read timetables and route planners, less travel pass restrictions and better accessibility for wheelchairs.

More transport training for people with learning disabilities is needed, such as Brandon Trust’s Travel Buddy scheme, the report added.

Joe Jones, who has a learning disability and is supported by Brandon Trust, said: “People with learning disabilities crave the same freedom and independence which all people do and these issues affect people nationwide. Being able to travel is very important to such independence. 

“Without transport our lives become far more localised and people can end up just staying at home and being isolated.”

Brandon Trust’s chief executive, Lucy Hurst Brown, said: “We passionately believe that all people with learning disabilities are able to lead fulfilled lives. Our role is to find a way to make this happen for every individual in a way that is appropriate for them. This is something we can do.

“Access to transport is a key ingredient and this event is a great opportunity to promote improvements to accessing public transport and thereby true inclusion in society.”


To read the full 100 Voices On Transport report, click here.

An easy read version is available here.