Pesky People is at Culture Hack Scotland day 2 (7th May 2011) which “brings together Edinburgh’s world-famous festivals and other leading Scottish cultural organisations with software developers and creative technologists to see what amazing new things they can make in just 24 hours.”. I’m here to see what’s brewing (great stuff), how open data can improve access and meet people.

I’ve discovered it is really difficult to get there if you are disabled because of the transport. Edinburgh Fringe Festival are doing great things to audit and ensure their festival is accessible. With detailed audits, disability awareness training and sharing resources with a consultation on access week at the festival in February led by Fiach OBroin-Molloy.

Only Network Rail lets you down (if you are disabled).

Just travelling from Glasgow Queen Street to Edinburgh Waverley threw up again how bad railway stations are for access. At least I don’t have to give them advance  notice of my travelling just to get a train.

  • There are the stairs.
  • There are barriers you have to put your ticket through. It might be a way to stop ticket dodgers but if you are a wheelchair user, disabled, got kids, pushing a buggy, carrying a cup of tea – they are a nightmare.
  • I asked for the accessible barrier at Queen Street to be open for me (I was wheeling my bag) – the reply was ‘put your ticket in the machine’ so add staff’s lack of disability awareness and inconsideration to the hit list. I gave up asking at Waverley.

If you have 2 mins just watch the video (taken with my iphone) of me getting from the main concourse to the taxi rank. Link takes you to Pesky People you tube channel. Edinburgh Waverley Station disabled access route

Highlights include:

  • the signage
  • their directions to where you get help (an automated information point) – really helpful if you can’t reach it, use the buttons (trying to keep hold of wandering toddlers).
  • The lift takes you up to change platforms but hay where’s the taxi rank in East Market Street? Up a flight of stairs).

I spotted people at the top struggling to get down with heavy bags. So if the taxi rank main drop off point  is in East Market Street. Why isn’t there a lift?

Did they really test out the route? I don’t think so. A great welcome to Edinburgh during the festival season.

Scotrail takes access seriously – want a copy of ‘Making Rail Accessible – Guide to Policies and Practices‘ you have to write to them. To quote:

“We try and give all the help that’s needed to our disabled customers throughout our network – whether or not they have booked in advance. We do recommend that you try and make prior arrangements though, because many of our stations are unstaffed, or staffed only part time.”

I’ve been advised that Edinburgh Waverley Station is run by Network Rail – not Scotrail (my mistake). Their page Disabled Access at our Stations outlines their policy which is available for download  Making Rail Accessible a Guide to Our Policies and Practice (PDF). Let us know what you think.

I for one am looking forward to Go Genie taking on this problem 🙂

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