“Why should going out be stressful?”

Aaron comments on the difficulties of travelling as a wheelchair user, and explains how our Right to Ride guide could help to improve his experiences.

In my opinion, public transport hasn’t improved much for at least 20 years. Thinking back to when I was a kid, buses seem the same. Trains probably are, too.

It’s as if disabled people didn't exist in the '80s and '90s. We've always been here, but the people who built these transport systems had their eyes closed and decided to ignore us.

I have so many negative experiences of using public transport as a disabled person. These range from issues on buses, trains, and with taxis.

“For months afterwards, I couldn't get the bus by myself.”

I ended up taking legal action after I fell off a bus. I went to get off a bus and instead was catapulted out of my wheelchair. I hit the floor on my knees and grazed my face.

Buses are supposed to be lowered before a wheelchair ramp is used, but the driver hadn’t bothered to lower it. Normally, bus drivers would stand in front of me to support my chair as I get off. But this driver stepped out of the way, as if he was thinking, 'Ooh no, I'm not touching that.'

I rang my mum when it happened, and she broke speed limits to get to me on time. The bus driver wasn’t worried about me, but he did call an ambulance. I was quite lucky just to get bruises and grazes.

I went down the personal injury route and got some compensation, but I didn’t do that for the money. I wanted an apology and an admission of guilt. I wanted to know that something was going to change so that it didn't happen again.

For months afterwards, I couldn't get the bus by myself. I'm still not a massive fan of them now. I always prefer to get off at raised stops so that the ramp is level with the pavement. Sometimes I’ll ask a driver to prepare the ramp and, they’ll do so half a mile away from the kerb. They once said my brother should do it, but It's actually in their job description.

“Taxi drivers turn down my fare without any consequences.”

Taxis can be worse than buses. The taxi companies in my area have accessible cars, but drivers sometimes have this look on their face when they see me coming as if they don’t want me to speak to them. I’ve been told lots of times that my wheelchair won’t fit into an accessible vehicle. I’ve even found that space for a wheelchair is sometimes filled with other items, like a spare tyre.

I’ve missed out on trips out before because I couldn’t get a taxi. I've taken long walks home many times with no other option, and passed taxis looking for fares on the way.

I still pay for my taxi, but these drivers turn down my fare without any consequences, leaving me feeling baffled and wound up.

It’s an attitude problem, and it makes me hate getting taxis. They’re supposed to be convenient, but they’re not for me. I've always said I’ll start an accessible taxi firm if I win the lottery.

“Travelling by train alone was the most stressful experience of my life.”

I’ve also experienced many problems whilst travelling by train. I’ve been unable to get off trains at the correct stop, and I’ve needed my brother to find assistance to me whilst I stop the train from leaving before I can get off. It doesn’t always seem like the staff want to help me, either.

It’s not always possible to book assistance if I’m not sure what train I’ll need to travel on. Even when assistance is arranged, it’s still not always available.

Travelling by train alone on one occasion was the most stressful experience of my life.

“There’s a lot of stress and upset that comes with travel.”

The inaccessibility of public transport used to make me feel gutted, but now it just makes me angry. All I want is to just do normal things, like travelling. I want to do something about it, but I can't. It’s so frustrating.

For me, there’s quite a lot of stress and upset that comes with travel. Especially with a convenient option like a taxi because it's something I should be able to use. If I ever get stuck, I should be able to ring a taxi and be able to get home.

Why should going out be stressful?

“The Right to Ride guide will give disabled people more confidence when travelling.”

Scope have worked with the Department of Transport to create the Right to Ride guide. It’s designed to give disabled people the information they need when things go wrong whilst traveling.

The guide covers information that often isn’t readily told to people. For example, it details what disabled people are entitled to under the equality act, and what transport companies must do. I like that because a lot of disabled people might not know those specifics.

There’s been many times where I’ve wanted to make a complaint, but not really known what I need or how is best to go about it. This is particularly true when it comes to taxis. This guide shows me where to go to make a complaint, and how the process works.

I was surprised to learn all the different ways to book and receive assistance when travelling. I know from experience it can be awkward going up to staff to ask for assistance, so this is useful.

The Right to Ride guide is great. It will give disabled people more confidence when travelling.


Right to Ride is a transport rights guide created by Scope and the Department for Transport. This guide will help you understand your options for escalating any issues that you may experience when travelling on public transport as a disabled person. It aims to:

  • bring together information in one place.
  • help you to understand your rights across the transport network.
  • set out the standards you should expect when travelling, and how you can complain if things go wrong.

It also provides information on accessibility, how to request assistance and how to make a complaint.

Read our Right to Ride guide