Campaigners are calling for better disabled access on public transport in Wales.
Staff from Disability Arts Cymru say accessible transport is vital if disabled people are to be independent in society.
Research by The House of Commons Library shows that Wales has some of the worst disabled access to railway stations in the UK. They used National Rail Enquiries’ database of information about stations across the UK to reveal that only ten per cent of stations in Wales have accessible toilets, and just eighteen per cent have reachable ticket offices.
Rachel Smith, a disabled artist based in Cardiff, says travelling by train is sometimes so stressful that she suffers from anxiety. She says toilets in stations, well-staffed ticket offices and working ticket machines are essential when she goes on a trip. Without them, she struggles to get from A to B.
Rachel is part of a disabled artists’ workshop at Spectrwm – a community hub in Fairwater. A number of the artists who attend the workshop say travelling by train is impossible for them. “I never use public transport,” says Rose from the group, “quite often there is nowhere to sit when you’re waiting for the train. Without transport, you start getting quite isolated. Everyone else is having fun except for you. You feel embarrassed because you keep having to say, ‘sorry, I can’t make it.’
Sara Beer, the South Wales Regional Officer for Disability Arts Wales says a government consultation is needed if society is to really understand the realities of travelling as a disabled person. “It’s quite shocking to suddenly be faced with how bad things really are. It’s really isolating and frustrating, travelling as a disabled person.”
A spokesperson for Transport For Wales has said “As part of our £5bn programme of investment across Wales and the Borders, we are working hard to improve the accessibility of our services. We have established an Accessibility Panel to help us make sure that we’re making the changes that our customers need.”