On 19 May 2016, TUC Disabled Workers' Conference hosted the Labour Party's Disability Equality Roadshow. Shadow Minister for Disabled People Debbie Abrahams introduced herself and the roadshow's aims, then listened as delegates told her what we want. Various policy areas were discussed, with an introduction from a member of the TUC Disabled Workers' Committee and contributions from delegates.
I introduced the segment on public transport, making the following points:
- Public transport remains very inaccessible to disabled people.
- We need a major programme of physical access improvements - lifts, ramps, sensory provision, audio on buses, etc. (This will also create jobs in building, installing and maintaining these facilities.)
- Access also needs the presence of transport staff, including:
- staff on stations
- a driver and a guard on every train
- conductors on buses
- publicly-licensed, accessible taxis
- Crucially, we can only make public transport accessible if we own it. We demand public ownership of rail and other public transport - not on the old bureaucratic model, by run democratically by workers and passengers, including disabled workers and passengers.
Delegates added the following points:
- Renationalise the railways and improve the services to European standards: cheap fares, accessible, with UK-wide Freedom Passes for disabled people.
- Wheelchairs users need priority over buggies on buses; wheelchair users' carers should not have to operate bus ramps themselves.
- Tax the rich to fund investment in rail and bus services to relieve congestion.
- Transport workers need the provision to remain in work if they become disabled.
- Network Rail is doing some good work on accessibility.
- For access, we need trained staff, audio announcements / talking buses.