Blind man with guide dog says he was forced to stand on train after passengers refused to give up seats
A blind commuter took to Twitter last Tuesday to voice his frustrations with passengers who allegedly refused to give up their seats for him.
Jonathan Attenborough, 30, said he was on a ScotRail train between Edinburgh and Perth in Scotland with his guide dog when he repeatedly asked fellow passengers if there were any open seats. Allegedly, nobody answered the passenger and he was left to stand for the duration of his commute.
"Completely unacceptable passenger assistance from @ScotRail to leave me and my guide dog in the doorway of the train," he wrote. "I asked several times if there was any spare seats and not one passenger responded. Doesn’t give me much faith in humanity @MathesonMichael."
Attenborough directed the tweet at Michael Matheson, a member of the Scottish Parliament and Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity. He later received a response from a representative at ScotRail, who asked him to provide more details and apologized for the incident.
"Hi Jonathan, I wanted to get back in touch about your experience on Tuesday," the representative tweeted. "I’ve sought advice from our Access & Inclusion Manager and also fed back to our station & onboard teams. You should have been assisted to a suitable seat, and I’m sorry this didn’t happen."
The representative went on to say that the train operating company would work with its employees to better serve passengers with disabilities.
"We’re currently rolling out mandatory training outlined in [Britain's Office of Rail and Road] Assisted Travel Policy," the representative wrote. "All new staff, including senior/key managers, will receive this as part of their induction by July 2021."
Attenborough's tweet sparked sympathy from other Twitter users, many of whom condemned the passengers for not being considerate.
"Shame on every one of those passengers," one person wrote. "You shouldn't even have had to ask."
In an interview with the Sun, the 30-year-old said he was stunned that no one offered their seat.
"It’s important for any blind or visually impaired people to be seated when on moving transport as the movement of the train can be very disorienting," Attenborough explained. "I also like to be seated so that my dog is safely out of the way so that his tail or paws don’t accidentally get stood on by other passengers."
He added that he did not notice any ScotRail staff onboard the train since it was crowded.
"I think the customer service experience has to improve from ScotRail especially for disabled people," Attenborough told the newspaper. "I also think that some kind of government regulation around assisted travel for disabled people should certainly be looked at as well."
In a statement to the Sun, a ScotRail spokesperson apologized on behalf of the company again.
"We’re sorry we let Mr. Attenborough down on the high standards of assisted travel that we aim to provide," the statement read. "We are working hard to learn from this, and ensure that this does not happen again."
Attenborough previously made headlines after several animal rights activists confronted him and told him that his guide dog should be set free, according to the Mirror. His latest incident comes just weeks after a pregnant mother similarly went on Twitter to slam an elderly couple for taking her children's seats on a train in England.