Ted Shiress

Getting On Board

Posted on | June 12, 2018 | No Comments

There’s a petition going around urging rail companies to improve their disabled access which I urge you to sign. No, seriously sign it, I’ll wait. I’ve even programmed the hyperlink to load it in a new window so I know you’ll be back.

There see, I said you will be. For me anyway, the most frustrating thing about needing ‘access requirements’ is not a lack thereof; it’s the matter of who to ask. You rock up at the station only to be told they don’t have the ‘powers’ to book assistance – I don’t quite understand why saying “Hey, the crip on the 15:20 to Temple Meads needs a hand off” requires you to be The Chosen One. This leaves you with two options: lose the will to live by calling the semi-automated national number they give you or chance it. By ‘chancing it’ I mean just rocking up and asking the guards for help hoping they will oblige.

I always opt for the second and in fairness to the guards I find them very helpful and seldom have a problem, however should disabled people really have to ‘chance it’ and leave things up to people’s good will in 2018? Imagine if I was successful as a comedian, I wouldn’t want my audiences to turn up to my gigs only to be told ‘The scheduled act, Ted Shiress, won’t be performing because the guard on the 18:34 was busy and forgot to help the poor sod off”. I would have hoped that by 2018 disabled people wouldn’t be finding themselves relying on people’s goodwill to live their lives, but apparently not.

I nearly always travel with my walking frame so in the worst case scenario I can ask a randomer or two to help me and it down the step, I realise I have a little privilege here as those in wheelchairs don’t have this option. I would take my scooter more often if I wasn’t worried about being left and I imagine wheelchair users feel this worry every time they board a train.

This is why I urge you to sign this position – not as an assault on guards but just to urge train companies to make the process of formally booking assistance far more easy and far more reliable, it’s 2018 for fuck’s sake.

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