A majority of our readers will know that when a disabled person travels via public transport, there is usually some kind of discount. One of our readers, Nick Whyton from Fareham, brought to our attention an interesting and somewhat troubling condition to the Gosport Ferry disability discount. It only applies if you are in a wheelchair.
Nick says that when he attempted to purchase a ticket, he asked for a disabled discount, and was told it only applies to people who use a wheelchair. “I even showed the ticket guy in the kiosk my yellow HCC card to prove I am registered blind and therefore disabled and I still got refused a disabled concession.”
After Nick brought this to our attention, we took a look at the Gosport Ferry website. They do indeed offer a so called “Wheelchair” rate which differs depending on whether the passenger has a manual or motorised wheelchair. They also offer a children’s discount, a “senior” discount and an “Armed forces” discount. It seemed odd to us that they don’t offer a general disability discount, so we contacted Gosport Ferry LTD directly to ask them why. Unfortunately they couldn’t be reached for comment.
One possible explanation for the wheelchair discount is the limited access to the boat. According to the Gosport Ferry website, a wheelchair user is only able to access the main deck on the Ferry, not the upper deck or cycle areas. This means they’re only able to access about half of the boat. Most other disabled passengers who are not confined to a wheelchair should usually be able to access these other areas.
Also, as mentioned above, it is worth noting that a wheelchair user who is using a motorised wheelchair pays 40p more than a wheelchair user who is in a manual wheelchair, similar to the pricing difference between a bicycle and motorcycle ticket. On the wheelchair user’s page of the Gosport Ferry website, it says that the wheelchair user travels for free, implying that the charge is not for the person traveling but for the wheelchair itself, as though the wheelchair was a vehicle.
Gosport Ferry LTD are well within their rights to not offer a disabled discount. They are not doing anything illegal in not offering a general disability discount as the service is still accessible to other disabled users. However, it is puzzling that they are willing to give children, seniors, armed forces and wheelchair users a discount but don’t afford other disabled passengers the same luxury. A lot of this confusion could be easily solved by a clearer explanation of their ticketing on their website, especially if the reason for the wheelchair discount is the lack of access to the top deck and because the wheelchair could be classed as a vehicle which would mean that without the discount, wheelchair users would have to pay more to bring their wheelchair aboard.
Story by: Matthew Cooper