DISABLED ‘TERRIFIED’ TO TRAVEL ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT’ BECAUSE OF RISING ABUSE FROM COMMUTERS
Disabled people are facing increasing levels of hostility and abuse when using public transport, it was claimed today.
Some are so terrified of travelling that they are confined to their home, according to Alice Maynard, chairman of the leading disability charity Scope.
Ms Maynard, a wheelchair user with a neuromuscular impairment, said she regularly comes under attack when using trains.
Commuters shout and swear at her and a personal assistant once or twice a week because they have to give up their seats.
She said: ‘I think it is increasing because of the pressures on people, the overcrowding on trains and the general economic climate. If I reminded myself about everything that has been said, I would shut myself inside.’
New data from Scope reveals that almost 50 per cent of those with disabilities face discrimination on their way to and from work.
Thirty-one per cent of respondents claimed there was discrimination by bus drivers and one in four said the same about train staff.
Ms Maynard told the Times she believes the harassment is getting worse with some people ‘just hostile and prejudiced.’
She revealed that in one case, a commuting father with his daughter who appeared to be five years old, screamed at her: ‘Get the f*** out of here.’
Ms Maynard, who once worked in the travel industry, has a condition that makes her very weak and unable to perform simple chores like cutting vegetables.
She warned that the disabled have to build a ‘shell’ around themselves to handle the abuse or there would be a danger of ‘self-imposed isolation’ because they would be less and less willing to use public transport.
Liberal Democrat Transport Minister Norman Baker described the Scope data as ‘disappointing.’
A report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to be published in the autumn will detail the scale of abuse on trains and buses throughout the country.
It believes public transport is one of the ‘hotspots’ for ‘violence and harassment’ of disabled people.