I’ve mostly avoided public transport and the public in general since March however in the last couple of weeks I’ve made my first trip south and back and used trains again. I know I’ve blogged about the difficulties of using public transport as a disabled person before but travelling during a global pandemic with social distancing measures makes it harder.
The current recommendations for distancing are two meters where possible or 1 meter+, buses have blocked off some of the seats, benches have every other seat taped up and all forms of transport are meant to limit how many people use it at a time, face coverings are also mandatory*
The problem is people who need to sit down and especially those in need of a priority seat are at a disadvantage, the majority of priority seats on buses are not in use, non disabled people** sitting in the seats nearest the doors on the trains force disabled people to walk down to train or stand and a lack of benches at stations again forces standing or sitting on the floor which is dirty and unpleasant even when there isn’t an increased health risks, despite wearing a hidden disabilities sunflower lanyard, a please offer me a seat and wrestling with a suitcase and mobility aids people still seemed still seemed oblivious to my existence (I don’t like asking in case someone is disabled).
Masks are a struggle for some disabled people too, they’re claustrophobic for people with anxiety, can be difficult for people with sensory issues and can make communication hard for people who lip read.
There are many ways in which the pandemic is harder for disabled people than non disabled people especially struggles around accessibility and the easing of lockdown restrictions keeps bringing more challenges.
* Apart from people who are exempt
** I know I can’t tell just by looking at someone whether they’re disabled but I find it unlikely that every single person sitting at the front of the bus or nearest the train doors is disabled.