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My adventure on public transport

anaqi Member Posts: 52 Courageous

Yesterday I had a bit of an adventure on public transport.  I'm a wheelchair user and I had to get to St Mary's in London for a medical appointment, but it didn't quite go to plan.

I caught the train in Retford with my husband.  I'd bought tickets online and I telephoned Hull trains in advance to reserve a wheelchair space.  They allocated seats D00A and D01A for me and my husband but when we boarded the train the staff said those seats didn't exist!  I wasn't sure what we were going to do but they showed us through to Coach E where there were two wheelchair spaces.  One was already occupied by another wheelchair user and the other space was cluttered with five suitcases.  I had to transfer to train seat and fold my wheelchair up amongst the luggage.  

I chatted to the other wheelchair user.  The train staff had blocked him in my putting a suitcase behind him and a large holdall to the side of him.  He wasn't happy either but at least we were on the train.

When we arrived in London the next challenge was to get from Kings Cross Station to St Mary's hospital, near Paddington.  We couldn't use the tube as it was inaccessible and it was too far to walk so we took the bus.  I'd never been on a London bus before but it was pretty easy.  We flagged the bus down and my husband pressed the wheelchair button on the side of the bus which triggered the ramp.  The wheelchair space was free so I positioned my chair with my back against the rest, put my brakes on and enjoyed the ride to St Mary's.  

The bus announced the stops so I knew where to get off.  I pressed the blue button but it didn't seem to work and the ramp didn't go down when the doors opened so  my husband popped off the bus and pressed the button on the outside again and the ramp deployed.

My medical appointment went well, we had some lunch then got the bus back to Kings Cross.  Two passengers had put suitcases in the wheelchair space and I had to ask them to move their bags.  It was a bit embarrassing and they weren't happy about it but they did move their bags and let me get on the bus.

We had more trouble when we arrived at the station.  The display boards at Kings Cross showed that our train had been delayed.  A problem with the overhead lines at Doncaster meant that trains weren't stopping at Retford.  The only other trains running stopped at Grantham which was nearly an hour away from where we needed to be.  I was exhausted and worried that we wouldn't get home.  

Then we heard the announcement that the Edinburgh train would be making a stop at Retford.  We asked the Virgin Trains people at the information desk if we could reserve a wheelchair space on the train.  The staff were very helpful and they took us directly to the train and helped us get on.  There was also another disabled person on a mobility scooter and we both had to squeeze into the space made for one wheelchair.  The train was packed but at least I managed to get home.

We didn't have the perfect trip but I got to my appointment on time and we got home, albeit an hour later than expected.  Public transport is great when it works, London buses were much easier to use than I expected, but it can be very challenging when things go wrong. 

I have written to complain about Hull trains failing to make my seat reservation and failing to ensure the wheelchair spaces are kept free of luggage.  I  have also thanked the Virgin Trains staff at Kings Cross for helping me to get me on a train home.  


  • Alex
    Alex Scope Posts: 1,307 Pioneering
    Thanks for sharing @anaqi.

    It's seems so unfair that you couldn't use the space on the Hull train because of luggage. I heard this happen a few times with people - and I just don't understand why it keeps happening. If staff see luggage in that spot (whether a wheelchair user has boarded or not) they should ask people to move it. There are other places luggage can go!
  • anaqi
    anaqi Member Posts: 52 Courageous
    @Alex  There was no where else for the luggage to go.  There was one small space for a buggy which had three suitcases in and the only available wheelchair space had four suitcases, two large holdalls and one backpack.

    The train staff moved some of the luggage and put it behind the other wheelchair user in order to make room for my folded wheelchair.  

    The train was quite full and there was no other place for luggage.  I don't blame the passengers for bringing their luggage on board, I blame the design of the train for not accommodating everyone's needs.

  • Alex
    Alex Scope Posts: 1,307 Pioneering
    Wow! Fair enough!

    Although maybe the train company need to introduce some more luggage space!

  • nanof6
    nanof6 Member Posts: 200 Pioneering
    i went on a train last week,there was luggage all in the bay where i need my electric wheelchair , and the ticket man who helped me board with the train ramps, shouted down the train, come and get your bags and cases from the disable area, and everyone ran to pick them up, like naughty school children, but then i was in Wales, they realy look after you on there trains.
  • htlcy
    htlcy Member Posts: 128 Pioneering
    Thanks for sharing, anaqi. How disappointing that you didn't have the space you so rightly deserve! This isn't an exception, unfortunately. I think continually letting the transport providers know they're failing in some way is the only way to remedy this. Contacting them via social media gets a rather quick response, I've found, so that might be useful to do. I'm glad some things went well, but thanks for sharing your adventure: awareness like this is just what we all need.
  • anaqi
    anaqi Member Posts: 52 Courageous
    It seems it pays to complain.  Hull Trains are investigating the issues I had and they sent me a bunch of flowers today.  I hope next time I travel with them things will be a little better.
  • Alex
    Alex Scope Posts: 1,307 Pioneering
  • wildlife
    wildlife Member Posts: 1,308 Pioneering
    This sounds like my worst nightmare which would have started at the border between surroundings I know and what was unknown to me. I would NOT be able to go any further. But according to ATOS and  DWP I could do this on my own repeatedly for the majority of days..Ughhhh !!!


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