Please provide the service you sign up to do...

Niall Strawson

Niall Strawson

First published in News
Last updated
Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

Transport is often an easy topic for a disability column, and trust me I could go on for way longer than 500 words about the transport woes in my life, so today I’ll focus on one night in the life of Niall.

It was this Saturday night just gone. I headed out to the Cowley Road for a birthday party. Where I live in Headington I am blessed by frequent bus services.

To get to the Cowley Road involves a change but to be honest the staff are so lovely, they always get the ramp down, make sure that all is hunky dory and even check that I have put my brakes on before driving off.

This experience is further gilded by the free bus pass, which is perhaps one of the better government initiatives for the disabled.

Anyway, the bus stops, ramp goes down and I nip across St Clements and hop on the next bus up the Cowley Road managing door to door in about 15 minutes with no access issues – pretty impressive.

Move forward a few hours and a few glasses of vino later and I’m heading home. It’s pushing 2am and it’s chilly.

At this time of night my bus pass doesn’t allow me the luxury of free travel so I decide that waiting in the cold for two night buses is no competition for flagging a taxi and being home sooner.

Thank goodness I was in Cowley Road as there were black cabs zooming up and down. Or so I thought until yellow light after yellow light went past me deliberately avoiding eye contact. I guess picking up a wheelchair user is just one hassle too many. You know getting out of the cab, putting the ramp down, getting paid to do the job that you have signed up for. I know taxi drivers are allowed discretion but discrimination is a step too far.

Imagine if a bus turned up and the driver said “nah mate you can wait for the next one as I can’t bothered to get out and put the ramp down”. It would never happen and if it did they’d get the sack.

This experience has happened to me before. In London I had to hide behind a builder’s van whilst he flagged one down, the same in Edinburgh hiding behind a bin whilst someone flagged one down. Eventually one cab stopped and took me home thankfully. I recognise that not all cabbies play this trick, so thanks to those who care.

If you drive a cab or know someone that does make them read this.

I hope that all the drivers that deliberately ignored me on Saturday night do so as well and that they have a think about how they might feel when society decides not to serve them at a supermarket till, or when they turn up to a restaurant where the waiter doesn’t serve them. It’s simple, provide the service you sign up to do.

Comments (9)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

11:01am Wed 16 Apr 14

Miss Cynical says...

I actually can't imagine what it must feel like to have people completely ignore you like this. I have no experience of disability but this piece really opened my eyes to the everyday struggles faced by disabled people. I am really sorry that Niall was made to feel like a second class citizen. Next time, I'd recommend he takes registration numbers of the offending taxi companies and escalates the issue with the council as it is totally unacceptable. (Guess that's no mean feat after a couple of glasses of vino, though...)!
I actually can't imagine what it must feel like to have people completely ignore you like this. I have no experience of disability but this piece really opened my eyes to the everyday struggles faced by disabled people. I am really sorry that Niall was made to feel like a second class citizen. Next time, I'd recommend he takes registration numbers of the offending taxi companies and escalates the issue with the council as it is totally unacceptable. (Guess that's no mean feat after a couple of glasses of vino, though...)! Miss Cynical
  • Score: 2

11:13am Wed 16 Apr 14

xenarthra says...

That's pretty mean-spirited of the taxi drivers. Rather than hiding behind bins though, could you call one of the many mini-cab firms that operate in Oxford instead? They usually arrive get to Cowley Road pretty quickly.
That's pretty mean-spirited of the taxi drivers. Rather than hiding behind bins though, could you call one of the many mini-cab firms that operate in Oxford instead? They usually arrive get to Cowley Road pretty quickly. xenarthra
  • Score: 3

12:13pm Wed 16 Apr 14

King Joke says...

Actually, at £2.50 or thereabouts the night bus fares aren't too bad compared with the cab fare, considering they will actually stop for you!
Actually, at £2.50 or thereabouts the night bus fares aren't too bad compared with the cab fare, considering they will actually stop for you! King Joke
  • Score: 3

4:37pm Wed 16 Apr 14

gans shakes says...

I am also limited by travel, as my scooter is structured with 5 shock absorbers and a seat that reduces my neurological tremors and severe pain, but this is a vital part of my ability to have some sense of quasi-independence. There are almost non-existent options for me to permit travel via bus, cabbies (they refuse to take me), and many locations by train.

Mind you, I love Oxford. This is my home and my Alma Mater. But the inability to see anything beyond my limits of my mobility scooter makes the desire to go out unattractive. Does anyone know of transit options for the severely disabled?
I am also limited by travel, as my scooter is structured with 5 shock absorbers and a seat that reduces my neurological tremors and severe pain, but this is a vital part of my ability to have some sense of quasi-independence. There are almost non-existent options for me to permit travel via bus, cabbies (they refuse to take me), and many locations by train. Mind you, I love Oxford. This is my home and my Alma Mater. But the inability to see anything beyond my limits of my mobility scooter makes the desire to go out unattractive. Does anyone know of transit options for the severely disabled? gans shakes
  • Score: 0

8:29pm Wed 16 Apr 14

King Joke says...

Is your scooter too heavy to by carried by bus? Certain types are have been cleared for use on buses without buckling the ramps:

http://www.rica.org.
uk/content/mobility-
scooters-buses

Apologies if you've looked into this already Gans.
Is your scooter too heavy to by carried by bus? Certain types are have been cleared for use on buses without buckling the ramps: http://www.rica.org. uk/content/mobility- scooters-buses Apologies if you've looked into this already Gans. King Joke
  • Score: 2

5:31am Thu 17 Apr 14

gans shakes says...

Thanks, King Joke! I wish you and yours all the best for the Holiday.
Thanks, King Joke! I wish you and yours all the best for the Holiday. gans shakes
  • Score: 0

8:13am Thu 17 Apr 14

King Joke says...

No worries Gans. Also to note, all public bus services in the County, to my knowledge, are wheelchair accessible with low floors, including the Oxford Tube.

Oxford Bus Company's London and Airport services use lifting technology on most of their vehicles, which might struggle with a heavy scooter, so I'd check with Customer Services.
No worries Gans. Also to note, all public bus services in the County, to my knowledge, are wheelchair accessible with low floors, including the Oxford Tube. Oxford Bus Company's London and Airport services use lifting technology on most of their vehicles, which might struggle with a heavy scooter, so I'd check with Customer Services. King Joke
  • Score: 1

11:46am Thu 17 Apr 14

Zengin says...

Hi Gans. Did you know there is a requirement for an operator responsible for an inaccessible rail station to provide a free accessible taxi for a passenger to the nearest accessible station. If a greater number of disabled people made use of this right, train operators might invest more in making stations disabled-friendly!
Details: http://www.publicati
ons.parliament.uk/pa
/cm201314/cmselect/c
mtran/116/11606.htm
Hi Gans. Did you know there is a requirement for an operator responsible for an inaccessible rail station to provide a free accessible taxi for a passenger to the nearest accessible station. If a greater number of disabled people made use of this right, train operators might invest more in making stations disabled-friendly! Details: http://www.publicati ons.parliament.uk/pa /cm201314/cmselect/c mtran/116/11606.htm Zengin
  • Score: 1

3:26pm Thu 17 Apr 14

gans shakes says...

Thank you both so very much! You have both given me valuable information that is greatly appreciated.
Thank you both so very much! You have both given me valuable information that is greatly appreciated. gans shakes
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree