DPAC and Transport for All would like to thank all activists, campaign groups, MPs & DPOs who took part in the Right to Ride lobby and demonstration.
The day was a fantastic success, and that was 100% down to those who turned up to make their contribution.
We asked DPAC/TFA members to attend a meeting with MPs at the Houses of Parliament, and request that their MP then join us on a short bus-ride from there to the Confederation of Passenger Transport to present a letter.
The strong message from across their speeches was that we have what we have by campaigning, and to keep up the good work. We welcomed the very supportive comments of MPs John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn in particular who have consistently supported DPAC and their campaigns.
We would also like to thank Inclusion London, and their CEO Tracey Lazard for their contribution and support on the day and their ongoing commitment to this and other campaigns.
We began the day by moving the MP meeting to a larger (though not more accessible) room- such was the turnout, and we still couldn’t fit everyone in! Following on from speeches by MPs and DPOs, lots of activists spoke about their (wholly negative) experience of using public transport. The anger and disappointment in the room was almost tangible.
As activists left H.O.P to go to Abingdon St bus stop, more and more people gathered from all around the country. Eventually hundreds of disabled activists and their campaigners were lined up, queuing for the number 87 bus. Again we heard from more activists, and more political support came in the form of London Assembly Member Navin Shah, and MP Julian Hubbard, who both addressed the gathering.
Once the speeches were done it was time for action! And in DPAC terms action means ACTION. The first ‘lucky’ 87 to come along made the fatal mistake of (illegally) denying disabled people access to the bus. So, if you can’t get on a bus – get in front of it. No doubt empowered by recent high profile Central London DPAC actions activists from Disabled Peoples Direct Action network and DPAC blocked and occupied 2 buses outside H.O.P. for almost an hour.
Activists held court, gave interviews and basically turned the bus lane into a wheelchair/scooter lane for the afternoon.
Once again, those on the sharp end of the action and those supporting agreed to end the action and leave together in solidarity.
After all that contingent from DPAC – TFA actually did make it to CPT to deliver our letter.
This action demonstrated once again, the power disabled people have they mobilise and take action together. We have never backed down as a movement – and we don’t intend to start now. We said after the Oxford Street action that we could continue to create spaces for disabled people to come and have their voices heard.
We especially give a big ‘thumbs up’ to the ‘Old School’ DAN members who led the charge. We welcome their return to the arena and look forward to working together of over the coming months.
A special mention and HUGE thanks to the volunteers from other campaigns (ye know who ye are), who turned up to provide support for those disabled activists that were supposed to travel on the buses. We appreciate their strong ongoing support and hope ye will turn out again.
Thanks to the volunteers from UK Uncut, Occupy London, Right to Work, TUSC, Drop Dow Now, Hands Off Our Public Services, Climate Justice Campaign, Fuel Poverty Action.
Video from Channel 4 –
c opy of our letter to CPT
14th June 2012
Dear Mr Posner
Today, disabled people have travelled to your offices from throughout the country. We have come here today because we have had enough of being denied access to buses in the UK; of being treated like second class citizens.
The sad truth is that almost every disabled person who has used buses has a story of a journey that was exhausting or difficult because of poor service by the bus company. Almost every wheelchair user has a story of being denied access to a bus, of waiting in the rain as bus after bus drives past. Of broken ramps or of bus drivers refusing to enforce wheelchair priority in the wheelchair space.
Almost every blind or visually impaired passenger has a story of non-existent or broken bus audio visual systems, of buses stopping metres away from the stop, too far away to ask what bus number it is.
Almost every ambulant disabled person has experienced buses pulling up leaving a chasm to leap between kerb and bus; or almost been thrown off their feet when buses pull away from the stop without time to sit down.
A 2009 survey by Trailblazers, End of the Line, found on more than half of all journeys on buses there were problems with the accessible facilities at the station or bus stop, on the bus or a poor service from members of staff. In one in three of the journeys made by Trailblazers, the survey respondent was unable to board the first relevant bus to arrive at their stop. This was a consequence of the access ramp being unavailable, the accessible space being unavailable or the driver failing to stop at a location which was accessible to the passenger.
This isn’t just about access to buses. We rely on transport to see friends and family; to get to work; to volunteer and enjoy sport and culture. When inaccessible buses stop us from getting out and about, we are excluded from public life. At worst, we become housebound. We become invisible.
Transport for All and Disabled People Against Cuts recognise that there have been improvements to accessibility in the bus industry. We welcome the commitment to meet the 2020 PSVAR regulations. And the introduction of wheelchair ramps to more and more buses around the country has transformed independent travel for thousands of wheelchair users.
And amongst the horror stories of disabled people denied access to buses, there are some examples of good practice. In London, TfL recently held the first ever training session for bus drivers which involved disabled and older people. In Brighton, buses are so spacious they can accommodate wheelchair users, those with shopper trolleys, buggies and guidedogs.
We would like to work with the CPT to ensure that accessibility is put at the heart of the bus industry. Ideally, we’d like to see a staff lead working exclusively on equality and inclusion – just as ATOC (the Association of Train Operating Companies) has a Head of Disability and Inclusion.
We also welcome CPT’s interest to meet and discuss this further and look forward to speaking to you.
Lianna Etkind Linda Burnip
Transport for All Disabled People Against the Cuts