‘Being treated like an actual person’: attitudinal accessibility on the bus

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, ridership - attitudes, ridership - behaviour, ridership - drivers, ridership - disadvantage, planning - surveys, policy - disability, policy - equity


Accessibility, attitudes, ableism, intersectionality, public transport


Whilst the essential nature of built environment accessibility has been well established in transport research, attitudinal, behavioural, and communication barriers experienced by transport users remain largely overlooked. Subtle and insidious, repetitive negative attitudes, behaviour, and communication can force disabled passengers out of the most affordable transport option available. Applying the Disability Justice Framework and a Mobility Justice approach, this study investigated disabled passengers’ reported experience of bus driver attitudes, behaviours, and communication methods, and the impact of these encounters. A mixed methods cross-sectional survey and focus groups with disabled adults and support persons were conducted. An Advisory Working Group of transport accessibility advocates, all with lived experience, were engaged to oversee the study design. Participants reported that some bus drivers demonstrated ableist attitudes, discriminatory behaviour, and communication methods. Many passengers had reduced or stopped catching buses altogether due to these negative encounters, restricting their community mobility, which further impacted their quality of life. Participants’ recommendations for drivers, operators, and transport authorities were thematically integrated into one statement, reinforcing the power of attitudinal access—‘treat me like the person I am, who is valid; with a right to time, space and safety; listen to me, and prove you care’.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.