Examples of discrimination

Problem areas include poorly presented timetables, over-complex booking procedures, and airport waiting rooms, ferry terminals, and bus, coach and rail stations without adequate facilities or assistance for disabled people. Transport companies are obliged by law to make reasonable adjustments to eliminate these sorts of problems. By making changes to eliminate discrimination against disabled people, it is likely that non-disabled people will also benefit from the improvements.

Transport companies may also be breaking criminal law if the design of buses or taxis makes it difficult for people with mobility problems, including those with wheelchairs, to access the vehicle – there are regulations which cover these areas. These rules give protection on top of the general protection given by discrimination legislation.

The following section lists a number of examples where people may have a legal claim because of being treated less well than someone else.

Example: Service on less favourable terms

A deaf and blind woman has booked a minicab. When the minicab arrives, the driver asks the passenger to pay the fare in advance, something which he would not require from other passengers. The driver believes, without good reason, that because of her disability she is less likely to be able to pay. This is likely to be unlawful.

Example: Poor station access

Mrs Yun, a wheelchair user, needs to get onto the London-bound platform at her local railway station. To get from the ticket office to the platform means crossing a footbridge with steps at both ends. Because of this, Mrs Yun has to make a 400-metre detour along a public road, which has no pavement, to reach the entrance on the London-bound platform. This takes her 20 minutes. Mrs Yun has a good case that it is unreasonably difficult for her to reach the London-bound platform. The service provider has a duty to make reasonable adjustments. For example, a free taxi service could be provided to drive passengers with mobility issues to both sides of the station.

Example: Abuse from staff

A passenger with learning disabilities is travelling on a train. She happens to be the sole passenger in the carriage for the duration of the journey. During the routine ticket check, the passenger requests confirmation that she is on the right train. Owing to her disability, she takes some time to ask the question. The inspector becomes rude and abusive at the length of time taken, thereby providing the passenger with worse service than normal. The fact that there are no other passengers in the carriage does not mean that the disabled passenger has not been treated less favourably than other passengers. Other passengers would not have been treated in this way.

Last Updated: 25 Jun 2009