On June 6th the Bradford and District Disabled People’s Forum and the Bradford Service User Group held a meeting on the topic of Disability and Public Transport. Sixty people attended the meeting.
Erica Ward who is the Accessibility Officer at West Yorkshire Combined Authority (METRO) gave a brief overview of her role and what the West Yorkshire Combined Authority does. Speakers also included representative from First Bradford and The Keighley Bus Company (Transdev).
The West Yorkshire Combined Authority is a partnership between the West Yorkshire authorities, and they are responsible for:
 Transport
 Economic Development
 Regeneration
The West Yorkshire Authorities work closely with bus and train operators to promote and coordinate local transport, operate the Metro network of bus stations, travel centres and bus stops and shelters, and provide public transport information in West Yorkshire.
The West Yorkshire Authorities also pay for around 10% of bus services at times where no commercial services are provided. They provide cheaper/ free travel to help older, disabled and young people get around, and manage the Access Bus service.
Workshop Discussions
Following the presentation, attendees were given the opportunity to get into groups to discuss what works well and the barriers to accessing public transport.
What works well?
Information
• Phone app that is designed for people who are visually impaired that links to my iphone
• Live travel updates via screen and phone
• Stop announcements on buses gives confidence to passengers
• Information accessibility – plenty of it
• Talking announcements
• Audio information
Transport Staff
• Drivers who are willing to scan the travel pass of wheelchair users
• Warm, welcoming, nice, friendly and polite drivers are helpful in making it a pleasant journey
• Transdev drivers lower buses, wait patiently for people to get on and be seated. They don’t rush passengers to get off.
• Bradford People First members have had a prompt response when they have emailed Erica Ward
• Drivers scanning passes
• On the whole all drivers have a good attitude
• Driver attitude
Buses
• Cameras are a good deterrent
• Manual ramps (better than electric)
• Disabled buzzer
• Access
Bus stations/stops
• Utilising a baby changing room at a bus station as a sensory/quiet room for people with autism
Bus Services
• When buses come on time
• Ringing bell system when used with cards i.e. please do not drive off until I am sat down
• Other helpful passengers
Communications/Sharing Information & Good Practice
• Shout outs from community groups/individuals about good service

Where is there room for improvement?
Information
Issues
PDF timetables – audio functionality doesn’t work with PDFs
Ideas for improvement
Commonality of the bus stop names to avoid confusion (different operators call same stop different names)
Better accessible information:
Options on web site to increase font/change colours (some people struggle with black text on white background)
Make sure that accessibility features/functionality still work when accessing the information via app or via website on a mobile phone
Better information from buttons at bus stops in the interchange
Buses
Issues
Ramp access
Wheel chairs sliding – seatbelt?
No room for wheelchairs
Difficulty of conflict between buggy users and wheelchair users
Maintenance of seats
Electric ramps can fail and there’s no back up (experience of electric ramp failing on 1 in 6 journeys)
Step down too high from bus to the stop
Ideas for improvement
Seatbelts for wheelchairs
Non slip flooring for wheelchairs
Ramp deployment announcements
Bus stopping signs inside buses to be made visible to back facing wheelchair users
Longer drop down handles to improve capacity
Better spoken announcements
Mirror facing the wheelchair user so that they can see where they are going and not miss their stop
More access for wheelchairs/overcrowding
Transport Staff
Issues
Drivers that deliberately drive past wheelchair users
Hidden disabilities questioned over their validity of having a concessionary pass
Poor service from some drivers when requesting stops and poor use of ramps
Drivers can forget to tell visually impaired people when they have reached their stop
Bus drivers setting off before seated
Drivers should not set off before passengers sit
Difficult for drivers to resolve disputes between passengers on the bus
Driver attitude
Ideas for improvement
Driver assisting
Drivers to stop at stops/shelters if people are waiting. People who are visually impaired wait inside the stop in bad weather and then don’t hear bus approaching/can’t hail the bus.
If someone is not disabled but would like the ramp lowered to make it easier to get on with their shopping etc. it would be helpful that the driver lowered the ramp if requested by a passenger without a disability. Equally, not to lower the ramp if not requested at times
Better awareness amongst drivers of hidden disabilities
Drivers to be aware that we know best what we can/can’t do (wheelchair user getting on/off bus)
Communications/Sharing Information & Good Practice
Ideas for improvement
Disability groups to talk to bus manufacturers /companies
Mystery traveller/shoppers with a disability
Shared good working practices between bus/transport providers
Bus Services
Issues
Overloaded buses
Reliability
Frequency
Unreliable bus service (sometimes due to staff sickness, annual leave for Eid celebrations)
620 bus unreliable
More school buses
Bus Passes
Ideas for improvement
Disabled bus/train passes starting at 9.30am
Travel before 9.30 – free or introduce reduced price tickets for people with a disabled person’s bus pass
Bus Stations/Stops
Issues
Ice forming on raised kerbs
Other passengers
Issues
People standing when seats available
Ideas for improvement
Undercover inspectors
Conductors
Trains
Issues
Keighley train station is not wheelchair accessible
Ideas for improvement
Be able to scan disabled passes at rail stations
Questions and Answer Session
I use a wheelchair and when I get on a bus I go into the wheelchair space and put the wheelchair brakes on. Sometimes when the bus goes up or downhill the chair slides around. Is it possible to have some sort of safety belt to get strapped in to prevent this?
Other members of the audience said this had happened to them; when the bus goes round corners sometimes the wheelchairs move.
This is the first time I have heard this and obviously it is important that everyone travels safely. I will find out if other operators have this problem and see what has been done to address it. The buses may need a floor covering that is less slippery. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We will look at the issue and work with wheelchair users to make sure the problem gets resolved.
If disabled people are travelling alone and have a pass they are not issued with a ticket so if they need to complain they don’t have proof of their journey.
The journey will be recorded on the system. If there is any incident you can ask the driver to print out the details for you.
Will Bradford be introducing electric buses like other areas have?
Harrogate does have a number, but I don’t know if there are any plans to have any in Bradford. Electric buses can be problematic as they are not suitable for all routes, the battery life can be quite short and they take a long time to charge. The newer buses we have are the best for low emissions.
Will electric buses be accessible if they are introduced? Yes, all vehicles have to be accessible.
Can the cards with hidden disability symbols be sent out with disabled bus passes?
That’s a good idea. They are currently available on travel websites and are available at travel centres.
When bus routes change, bus shelters move or are replaced by temporary bus stops it can be very difficult for people who have visual impairments. They can be quite difficult to navigate, too near traffic and don’t always feel secure. A stop with a bus shelter feels safer.
Shelters are very expensive and tend to be at the most used stops but if you request one, we can look at individual cases.
Sometimes when a question is put to a driver they respond by nodding which is no good for people with visual impairment. The drivers need to actually say yes or no.
Yes, we will try and ensure drivers are aware of this.
Erica informed everyone about the Bus Information Strategy 2019-24 that is taking place at present. This an opportunity for members of the public to have their say on the West Yorkshire Combined Authority cutting back on its pocket-size timetable booklet over the next five years, to deliver information via digitally, such as mobile devices.
You can take part and have your say on the proposed Bus Information Strategy 2019-24 by visiting:
https://www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/bus-information-strategy
The Chair of the Bradford and District Disabled People’s Forum thanked everyone for attending and taking part. Erica expressed how pleased she was with the great feedback and input from people who attended, and look forward to working with the Disabled People’s Forum to look at the next step.