A survey of disabled and older people has suggested these groups feel uncomfortable using trains, and other public transport, now COVID mask-wearing rules have been cut back.
The survey report, by the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC), concludes more than 60 per cent of disabled people might feel uncomfortable travelling with others under these circumstances, and 85 per cent want mask-wearing to remain in place for the foreseeable future.
Gordon McCullough, chief executive officer of RiDC, said: “With the main reason for respondents using public transport being to attend a hospital or GP appointment, it presents a worrying picture if their concerns limit whether they decide to travel.
“Disabled and older people would also have to find alternative ways to shop and would miss out on valuable time with family and friends – the next two most common reasons they take public transport.”
More than 90 per cent of respondents to the survey who are not exempt from wearing a mask said they will continue to wear a face mask when travelling, and 60 per cent of them would be encouraged to take public transport if other passengers did the same.
Hannah Langford from Knutsford in Cheshire has muscular dystrophy and uses a powered wheelchair. She used to take the train into London, has used black cabs and buses, but won’t be returning to public transport in the foreseeable future.
“I have been shielding since March 2020 and I feel like using public transport would be very unwise, particularly as COVID-19 cases have been rising,” she said. “It’s quite scary now that there aren’t the same precautions in place and we are reliant on people’s common sense. I feel people in my situation have been forgotten.”