The bus industry is facing fresh legal action over its failure to ensure disabled people have access to the designated wheelchair spaces on buses, six months after a Supreme Court judgment that campaigners hoped would finally settle the issue. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in January that wheelchair-users have a right to priority access over the wheelchair space on a bus, and that a driver must do more than just ask a non-disabled passenger to move if they are occupying the space and it is needed by someone using a wheelchair. But accessible transport campaigners said this week that, although there had been an initial improvement following the judgment, standards “were starting to slip again”. London’s user-led accessible transport charity, Transport for All (TfA), met last week to mark six months since the Supreme Court judgment. The meeting heard from one wheelchair-user and activist who said she had decided to take action over the repeated failure of a bus company to enforce
The bus industry is facing fresh legal action over its failure to ensure disabled people have access to the designated wheelchair spaces on buses, six months after a Supreme Court judgment that campaigners hoped would finally settle the issue.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in January that wheelchair-users have a right to priority access over the wheelchair space on a bus, and that a driver must do more than just ask a non-disabled passenger to move if they are occupying the space and it is needed by someone using a wheelchair.
But accessible transport campaigners said this week that, although there had been an initial improvement following the judgment, standards “were starting to slip again”.
London’s user-led accessible transport charity, Transport for All (TfA), met last week to mark six months since the Supreme Court judgment.
The meeting heard from one wheelchair-user
A new badge specially designed to make travelling easier for people who find it difficult to stand has been officially launched by Transport for London today. The blue ‘Please Offer Me a Seat’ badge is available to disabled passengers and those with hidden conditions, illnesses and injuries, to help them find a seat on public transport. The badge, and accompanying card have been created following requests from customers who can struggle to get a seat as their need is not immediately obvious. A six week trial with 1,200 people was held in autumn last year to test the new badge and card. More than 72 per cent of journeys were found to be easier as a result of the badge, and 98 per cent of people taking part in the trial said they would recommend it to somebody who needed it. The free badge and card is now available through the TfL website – http://www.tfl.gov.uk/accessibility The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “These blue badges will make a real difference to passengers who need a seat but just haven’t felt
A wheelchair-user has lodged 40 separate complaints in just three years about bus drivers who have failed put down the ramp for him, and have then driven off with him still on-board. Despite his repeated complaints, Chris Stapleton says the problem is getting worse every year. He has now lodged 19 complaints about the conduct of bus drivers working for London General – part of The Go-Ahead Group – and 16 about Arriva. When Stapleton presses the blue button that is placed next to the wheelchair space, the driver should halt at the next stop and put down the ramp so that he can leave the bus. But despite a siren sounding and an indicator light showing on their dashboard, drivers frequently drive off without putting down their ramp, with Stapleton still on board. He said: “When the driver pulls away from the bus stop after ignoring my request, I normally shout, ‘Stop the bus! I pressed the blue button!’ “Most drivers don’t give any sort of apology for failing to deploy the ramp earlier.
Advice to customers who wish to take assistance dogs with them into taxis, minicabs or chauffeured vehicles, particularly regarding complaints
Transport for London (TfL) has launched a campaign to highlight the rights of assistance dog owners when using private hire vehicles. By law private hire drivers must accept a passenger with an accredited assistance dog and at no extra cost on their fare. The campaign, which is specifically targeting the private hire trade, seeks to educate drivers and operators on their obligations and to highlight to passengers with assistance dogs the rights they have, including that their dogs must be allowed in the passenger compartment with the owner. The campaign comes as TfL is taking action to prosecute drivers that do not comply with the law. In the last six months, TfL has successfully prosecuted five drivers and three operators for refusing to take assistance dogs, has eight prosecutions pending and is currently investigating eight more cases. More than 7,000 people are assisted by dogs trained and accredited by the seven charities that come under the Assistance Dogs UK umbrella
- Asylum seekers and refugees applying to be cab drivers are not checked
- Drivers usually undergo criminal records checks for the public’s safety
- Those from outside the EU must provide reference from their home nation
- But refugees and asylum seekers are exempt and may be serious criminals
Asylum seekers and refugees applying to be minicab drivers are exempt from criminal records checks, potentially allowing murderers and rapists to get behind the wheel.
Rules laid down by Transport for London (TfL) mean refugees and those applying for asylum do not have to reveal whether they have a criminal history when trying to become a cab driver.
The legal loophole in an official application document on ‘private hire driver licensing’ says people coming to Britain will not be required to have their criminal convictions checked.
Asylum seekers and refugees applying to be minicab drivers are exempt from criminal records checks (file picture)
The form, seen by the Daily Express, states: ‘With regards to overseas criminal records checks, no such checks will be made in respect of those applicants who declare that they are in possession of or who have applied for refugee or asylum status.’
Everyone else who applies for a cab licence must undergo criminal records checks. Those from outside the EU who have spent more than three months abroad over the last three years have to provide a ‘letter of good conduct’ from their home country.
This usually requires their country of origin to give a reference to the Home Office, revealing whether the applicant has a criminal history.
But asylum seekers and refugees are exempt from this too, according to a second document.
A TfL guide on taxi and private hire applications states: ‘Any applicant who has been granted or is awaiting a decision to be granted asylum/refugee status will not be required to produce a Certificate of Good Conduct from the country he is claiming asylum from.’
Applicants from outside the EU must provide a letter of ‘good conduct’ from their home country – but asylum seekers do not have to
Campaigners called for a change in the guidelines, calling on all minicab drivers to undergo thorough criminal checks.
Tory MP Nick de Bois said: ‘They should not be offering licences to those they can’t check on. They could be putting vulnerable members of the public in the hands of thieves, murderers and rapists. It beggars belief.’
Helen Chapman, manager of London taxi and private hire at TfL, said: ‘All applicants for a Taxi or Private Hire drivers licence are required to undertake an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check which is carried out by the Home Office.
‘Any applicant that has lived in a country other than the UK for more than three months within the last three years is also required to produce a Certificate of Good Conduct from the relevant country.
‘We recognise this may not be possible if an applicant is granted asylum or refugee status and, where applicable, these applicants will be required to provide a Certificate of Good Conduct from any other country of residence within the last three years. They will also be required to provide evidence of their Certificate of Registration or a letter from the Border and Immigration Agency.’