Following our successful Supreme Court appeal for Doug Paulley against First Bus Group in 2017 which resulted in the bus company changing their policy for their allocated wheelchair space, we have seen some transport providers making positive policy changes and contributing towards a more accessible experience. Regrettably though, there is much more that needs to be done in making transport more accessible. We have a number of campaigners ‘on board’ and helping us to;
• Highlight the barriers disabled passengers face when trying to use public transport.
• Empowering individuals to use the law to hold service providers accountable.
• Share good practice and experiences,
• Remind transport operators/providers that they have a duty to make reasonable adjustments,
• Making transport operators/providers aware that disabled passengers have rights they can enforce under the Equality Act,
• Involve disabled and older people in current and future design of public transport,
This is an ongoing problem, why help now?
We receive many enquiries from people asking us for assistance in resolving a complaint about inaccessible transport. Too frequently cases cannot be advanced because of a lack of evidence. We often write to the operator or transport company requesting CCTV footage and on the rare occasion we have a response, the quality or sound is not adequate to use as evidence and subsequently the complaint is abandoned.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission have launched a new project “to increase access to Justice for people who have experienced discrimination related to age and/or disability in the provision of transport” (EHRC Legal support project for transport 2019)
What does the backing of the EHRC mean?
Due to the Government cost reforms in 2012 only claims with a personal injury element have cost protection, which is a problem in equality cases because the compensation is typically for the negative experience and not personal injury. This is an obvious barrier as it stops groups and individuals from bringing claims against service providers for the risk that claimants could have to pay some of the other sides costs if they lose their case.
The EHRC Project is providing funding for legal support to allow individuals who experience discrimination or who are faced with barriers in accessing transport the opportunity to make a claim with no costs risk. This is a once in a decade opportunity to make a positive impact and #deliverchange. We hope it will;
• Hold transport companies accountable in a way which they are currently not,
• Provide an opportunity for access to justice with legal backing from Fry Law and EHRC funding,
• Highlight problems to transport operators/providers with a view to making changes to policy or service
• Provide evidence to law makers in Parliament as to the need for legislative change as necessary,
• Provide Financial compensation for established breaches of the Equality Act,
What constitutes discrimination?
• Treating a disabled passenger less favourably than a non disabled passenger
• Treating a passenger unfairly because of something arising in consequence of their disability,
• Subjecting a disabled passenger to the detriment of being unable to travel,
Examples of discrimination
• Physical barriers to accessing stations, connections, platforms,
• Harassment from staff whilst using public or private transport.
• Not receiving the assistance you need.
• Problems booking tickets online or in person.
• Being unable to travel on a ‘turn up and go’ basis;
• Inaccessible information about journeys or maintenance works;
What is classed as Public and Private Transport?
• Buses and coaches
• Tour operator transfers to resorts (need to be a UK booking agency)
• Hire vehicles
• Recovery vehicles
• Boats/ferries (land based only)
Not included in the transport project:
• Boats and ferries (on board)
• Air travel (unless at Airports, UK based travel company reservations)
• Transport infrastructure.
What you can do.
If you want to take part in the campaign, we have a limited number of action cameras available to collect evidence whilst accessing public and private transport. The cameras have a remote control pad which can be worn around the wrist to activate recording.
The camera also has wifi access so that you can download on App onto your mobile phone device to store footage. If that’s too technical or non practical, we can also provide an SD card which can be plugged straight into your computer and footage can be sent to us.
This is a campaign to #deliver change and ultimately dismantle the barriers disabled passengers face when accessing transport. This campaign is about enforcing your rights and taking advantage of the funding protection by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. If we believe you have a case against a transport provider we will act for you on a no win no fee agreement. In any event we would like to use the footage to demonstrate good and bad practice to the EHRC and transport providers to highlight the barriers disabled people are faced with a view to making national and consistent standards of framework.
We also intend to write up our findings and share them with campaign groups and law makers.
Things to consider:
• Under section 118 of the EqA the last act of discrimination must have happened within a six month limitation period to the date a court action has been started.
• A detriment has to be demonstrated; late or missed appointments, or exacerbation of illness due to delay in not being able to access transport, for example.
• Please note that Fry Law will not be responsible for any matters arising from any mis-use of the camera provided!