Tanyalee Davis reveals her struggle with public transport on new BBC programme

PUBLISHED: 11:45 27 September 2018 | UPDATED: 11:46 27 September 2018

Josh Widdicombe, Tanyalee Davis, Nina Conti, Hal Cruttenden at Live at the Apollo - (C) Open Mike - Photographer: Ellis O'Brien

Josh Widdicombe, Tanyalee Davis, Nina Conti, Hal Cruttenden at Live at the Apollo - (C) Open Mike - Photographer: Ellis O'Brien

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Norwich comedian Tanyalee has shared a revealing train journey with BBC Inside Out to highlight the challenges of public transport for people living with disabilities. Are train providers doing enough to support all their customers?

The Garage's spring 2018 season - Tanyalee Davis
Photo: supplied by The GarageThe Garage's spring 2018 season - Tanyalee Davis Photo: supplied by The Garage

Tanyalee Davis from Norwich recently made the news headlines after being ordered out of a disabled space on a train to make room for a pram.

BBC Inside Out East presenter David Whiteley spent the day with Tanyalee to see some of the problems she faces with public transport - and there were some eye-opening revelations.

The comedian, who has a form of dwarfism called diastrophic dysplasia, is known for making audiences laugh but when she isn’t on stage, she devotes her time to trying to make travelling for those with disabilities easier.

Tanyalee says: “I think attitudes definitely need to change when it comes to people with disabilities. There’s a very closed mind and attitude, it’s either you ignore the person or you can’t go there you’re disabled…”

Tanyalee also suffers from arthritis but she explains getting a mobility scooter when she was studying at University in 1988 “opened her world”. She relies heavily on public transport since moving to Norwich but she has faced some difficult circumstances.

This summer, Tanyalee was forced off a train after she filmed and took images of a train guard who made her move from the disability space to make room for a mother, baby and pram. She recalls the events to David as “belittling and mortifying” and reveals how she was forced to back down in the end.

Footage filmed for BBC’s Inside Out highlights how easily problems can occur with public transport. Tanyalee, husband Kevin and Inside Out presenter, David board a train from Norwich to Great Yarmouth, selected at random and discover that not only has someone placed a suitcase in the disabled area but the disabled toilet is also out of order. The suitcase was moved but although noted to train staff, the toilet was unable to be fixed before their journey had been completed.

The 2010 Equality Act means trains, buses and other public transport must be accessible to disabled people but there’s no legal requirement for trains to have any toilets at all, but if they do they must also have a disabled toilet. By 2020 all trains must comply with this regulation.

Following the train journey, David agrees to meet with Juliette Maxam from Abellio Greater Anglia to discuss the problem with the out-of-order toilet facilities. Juliette explains: “There are 550 toilets on our trains and at the moment only three per cent of these are out of order and we are doing all that we can to bring that percentage down.” She said the toilet closure was stated on a customer notice board.

Juliette confirmed that they do make contact with those who have faced difficulties on their trains to explain what can be done to improve and better their services. Following the journey, Tanyalee and Abellio had a discussion about ways to make travelling more accessible for disabled passengers.

* Watch Inside Out on the BBC iPlayer.

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