Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Teenager Adds His Voice to Calls for Easier Access; QUICK TRIP ON THE METRO SHOULDN'T TAKE SIX HOURS TO PLAN, SAYS 17-YEAR-OLD TRYING TO BE INDEPENDENT

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Teenager Adds His Voice to Calls for Easier Access; QUICK TRIP ON THE METRO SHOULDN'T TAKE SIX HOURS TO PLAN, SAYS 17-YEAR-OLD TRYING TO BE INDEPENDENT

Article excerpt

Byline: HANNAH GRAHAM Reporter hannah.graham@trinitymirror.com @HannahGraham21

EVERY teenager wants their independence.

But according to one 17-yearold wheelchair user, inaccessible Metro stations make that difficult for disabled teens in the North East.

Elliot Caswell, from Tynemouth, has used a wheelchair to get around for most of his life.

Like most other young men, he wants to make trips into town and to see his pals by himself, but the risk of getting his wheels stuck between the train and the platform means he can't use the public transport system without someone to help him.

When Elliot read our story last week about 86-year-old Margaret Henderson, who has to ring Metro staff at least six hours in advance in order to get the help she needs to travel, he got in touch with a challenge to Metro bosses.

Elliot, who lives close to Tynemouth Metro station, said: "As a 17-year-old, trying to develop my independence, I have just as much right to use the Metro as anyone else my age.

"It is entirely unreasonable to expect me to give six hours' notice every time I want to take a quick journey into Newcastle - as a teenager, I don't often plan that far ahead."

As well as the risk of wheels getting stuck in the gap between the train and the platform, he says at many stations the only way to change platforms without using steps is to go a long distance out of the way to use road bridges to cross.

The teenager said he appreciates much of the help offered by Nexus, such as the companion card, which enables someone to travel with disabled passengers who can't travel alone for free, but he says things could be made better, suggesting a system such as the 'Harrington Hump', which raises one part of a station platform to the level of the train.

Nexus have responded to Elliot's challenge, saying they are keen to meet with him to see what they can do to help him travel independently. They claim the Metro is very accessible compared to similar systems, but there's still more to do. …

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