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I-drive Disability News Updates: How ready is public transport for the Paralympic games?

Channel 4 News’ No Go Britain last night raised fresh concerns about travelling around London for those with mobility problems.

When competing to host the Olympics, London 2012 was billed as “the most accessible games ever” and promises were made that London’s 21,000 taxis, all buses and the entire Docklands Light Railway would become “fully accessible to all” as of 2005.

There will be an estimated 23,000 people with mobility issues travelling during peak times to the games but Channel 4 found that sometimes the pavement is too high for a ramp to be deployed from a bus, and some taxi drivers simply refuse to stop for disabled passengers.

Raya, who has muscular dystrophy and is a wheelchair user, said: “[When] they don’t stop – a bag full of excuses comes out: ‘I don’t have a ramp, my ramp is not working, I’ve hurt my back’.”

Problems with the underground have also arisen. Sometimes there is a gap between the train and the platform, even at step-free stations, meaning a wheelchair user can’t disembark.

Disabled activists are now planning a national day of protest, on Tuesday 19 June, to highlight the inaccessibility of the public transport system, which will be made worse by government cuts to the disability living allowance (DLA).

Andy Greene, one of the organisers of next month’s protest, said: “People will be forced [by the DLA cuts] back onto a public transport system which doesn’t really cater for their needs.

“We will be exercising our right to use public transport, a system that we are told is accessible, so let’s put that to the test.”

In other news, world renowned conductor Charles Hazlewood has created Britain’s first disabled orchestra which will be playing its first concert next month at the ‘Orchestra in a Field’ festival in Somerset.

Adapted Vehicle Hire has launched an innovative new ‘Car & Driver’ chauffeur service for those with mobility problems to combat the severe limitations in both the public transport options and disabled parking provision associated with the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. Click here to find out more.