TfL urged to stamp out discrimination on Tube after footage of commuter berating blind man and guide dog

Transport for London is facing calls to help stamp out discrimination on the Tube and buses after an angry commuter was filmed trying to push past a blind man and his guide dog.

A disability campaign group has urged the transport body to set up a new awareness campaign after a video emerged of Tube worker defending a visually impaired passenger who was berated by a commuter as he stood on an escalator.

Ami Patel, 37, and his guide dog Kika received an outpouring of support after the footage was viewed thousands of times with Londoners condemning the “unacceptable” behaviour of the irate commuter.

Now, campaign group Transport for All is calling on TfL to run a dedicated marketing campaign to tackle prejudicial and discriminatory behaviour towards disabled passengers head on.  

The shocking footage sparked an outpouring of support for the man 

TfL said it was “always happy” to discuss new initiatives that support disabled people to get around London.

Faryal Velmi, director of TfA, said that as more disabled people assert their “right to ride”, they are facing more “ignorant and prejudicial” behaviour. 

“We find that, especially during rush hour, the journeys that disabled people are making – often to work or for education – are not seen as important as those non-Disabled Londoners make,” she told the Standard.

Amit Patel and his guide dog Kika (Amit Patel/Twitter)

“Many disabled people can find it very difficult to travel during these peak times due to not actually being physically get onto a Bus, tube or train and indeed often having to deal with discriminatory attitudes from other commuters. 

“TfL running a dedicated marketing campaign to tackle these prejudices head on would be very welcome.”

In the video, Mr Patel, who became blind five years ago from a haemorrhage behind his eyes, was confronted by an angry commuter who he encountered at London Bridge.

Mr Patel, who was a doctor until he lost his sight, was standing on the escalator with guide dog Kika when the man angrily accusing them of blocking his way and wasting his time.

The angry commuter ignored other people on the escalator who told him there was a guide dog further down and demanded they both move. But Kika, who is trained not to move when sitting on an escalator, stood her ground. 

Mr Patel, who was being led by a TfL staff member at the time, said the incident made him feel “destroyed” and powerless “like a little boy”.

Mr Patel said that he relies on Kika to get from A to B (Amit Patel/Twitter)

He said that many people are positive and considerate towards Kika and himself but he still endures two or three negative encounters every week travelling around London.

Commuter tells blind man to get guide dog out of his way on escalator

Ms Velmi told the Standard she is not surprised to hear how frequently Mr Patel experiences such interactions on London’s transport network.

“Our helpline regularly gets calls from disabled and older passengers who are subject to abuse or even hate crimes by other passengers,” she said. 

“There has been definite progress in terms of improved accessibility across all modes of transport in the capital over the last decade – more and more Disabled people are using public transport and this is positive. 

Guide Dogs advert highlighting the issue of taxi’s refusing passengers 

“However still living in one of the richest cities in the world there are still too many Disabled people who have restricted their lives and even become housebound…”

‘Overwhelming’ support for blind man told to move by irate commuter

Ms Velmi pointed out that the presence of the staff member escorting Mr Patel, who told the passenger to wait patiently, showed it is “crucial” to have visible and trained employees across London’s transport system.

“Not all accessibility measures cost millions. In particular rolling out the Disability Equality Training to all staff would be welcome – to complement the investment the training that has already happened. Also ensuring that there are no more staff cuts on the Tube is vital as the assistance given by staff members can make or break or journey for many disabled people.”

She said that staff, especially bus drivers, should undergo refresher sessions to ensure they know how to travel with a disabled passenger properly. 

And said that, “in worst case scenarios” where disabled passengers are subjected to abuse or hate crime, British Transport Police being on hand to deal with these instances is very important.

A TfL spokesman said: “We encourage all our customers to be more aware and considerate of their fellow passengers on our transport network, so everyone, including disabled people, can travel confidently, easily and safely.

“We work closely with a number of charities to promote accessible travel and are always happy to discuss new initiatives that support disabled people to get around London.”

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