- National Disabled Members 2003
- 7 July 2003
Conference notes that one of the greatest barriers faced by disabled people is inaccessible and inappropriate transport. They face considerable restrictions on their use of public transport and increasing restrictions on the use of their cars. Inaccessible buses, trains and stations, increasing pedestrianisation, parking restrictions and road pricing, and inaccessible travel information all contribute to make travel a necessary evil rather than an enjoyable experience for millions of disabled people.
Yet disabled people usually have to pay exactly the same as the rest of the population to use these transport systems. This when disabled people derive a much lower standard of service from transport and despite the fact that the vast majority of disabled people rely on benefits as their sole or main source of income.
The schemes that do exist to support disabled people to use transport are inconsistent and patchy at best, and discriminatory and oppressive at worst. Every travel scheme has different eligibility criteria and entitlements. The reductions in fares that a disabled person is entitled to depends more on postcode, the time of day and type of transport than it does on need. Disabled people have to complete huge benefit forms and undergo medical interrogation to prove their ‘disability’. Yet millions must undergo all this again every time they want a Blue Badge. If they want a disabled person’s railcard or coach card they must do all this again. The various schemes for disabled people cause chaos and leave disabled people not knowing whether they are coming or going.
Conference therefore demands:
1)a single disabled person’s travel card. This should be valid on all forms of public transport, taxis and for use as a parking permit;
2)there should be national entitlement criteria based on whether the person experiences discrimination and disadvantage when using transport;
3)it should entitle disabled people to the same fare reductions across the whole country on all public transport at all times of the day;
4)it should not, however, disadvantage those people, for example people with visual impairments, who currently receive free travel in some parts of the country;
5)it should entitle disabled people to reductions in the cost of taxi fares;
6)the travel card should be issued free of charge and the cost of any supporting evidence should be paid for by the organisation that manages the scheme not by the disabled person.
To achieve this, Conference instructs the National Disabled Members’ Committee to:
a)develop a detailed and costed proposal for the introduction of a scheme based on the above principles;
b)campaign and lobby for the introduction of such a scheme;
c)work with organisations of disabled people to develop and campaign for the scheme;
d)work with all areas and structures of UNISON to ensure that this becomes national UNISON policy;
e)report back to the National Disabled Members’ Conference 2004 on progress made with this campaign.