Next steps towards a fully inclusive transport network

Tue,24 July 2018
News Equality & Rights

New Government strategy, published today, aims to improve accessibility across all types of travel for people with visible and less visible disabilities.

View Inclusive Transport Strategy

Inclusive Transport Strategy: monitoring and evaluation framework

Read press release

The strategy includes investment in rail accessibility infrastructure, commitments to produce league tables which highlight operators that are delivering the best service for disabled people, and funding for Changing Places accessible toilets at motorway service stations.

The government will put up to £300 million of funding into extending the Access for All programme, making railway stations more accessible, including through step-free access.

Other measures announced today include:

  • £2 million for audio and visual equipment on buses, so that passengers on almost every bus will know where and when to alight
  • a £2 million passenger awareness campaign to increase disability awareness and reduce hate crime on our network
  • an accreditation scheme for transport operators to receive formal recognition for positive work to improve disabled passengers’ experiences, such as training frontline staff and senior management on disability awareness
  • ensuring future technology is designed inclusively from the outset, with opportunities sought to harness innovation

The strategy and wheelchair access on buses

The strategy promises to “announce how we will seek to prioritise access to the on-board wheelchair space for wheelchair users and other passengers for whom there is no other suitable accommodation on buses.” but currently places its faith in a somewhat fudged legal decision in the case of Firstgroup Plc v Paulley

“In addition, bus operators are subject to Section 20 of the Equality Act 2010 which requires service providers to make reasonable adjustments to enable disabled people to access their services. Only the Courts can determine definitively what action constitutes a “reasonable adjustment". In January 2017 the Supreme Court clarified the law as it affects access to the wheelchair space for wheelchair users, ruling that drivers must do more than simply request other passengers vacate the space when it is required by a wheelchair user.”

The Strategy says that ‘wheelchair users facing problems accessing buses will be able to report issues using a new online tool’ but until the legal position of wheelchair users is clarified it is difficult to see how effective this would be where access to a bus is refused.

Concerns about a failure to clarify this situation, six years after Mr Paulley was denied access to a bus were raised by the Lords in May 2018

A Task and Finish Group on the Use of Wheelchair Spaces on Buses’ has made 4 specific recommendations for wheelchair users, including a change in the law, but we are awaiting Government action on this.

Disability Rights UK has long called for a change in the law on wheelchair access

The strategy and shared spaces

The strategy recommends that local authorities pause the development of shared space schemes while the Department for Transport reviews and updates its guidance. It has temporarily withdrawn Local Transport Note 1/11: Shared Space [here is a link to a cached version, which you may or may not be able to access for reference].

Disability Rights UK gave evidence to the Women and Equalities Select committee on shared spaces. The Committee published a report into access for disabled people to the built environment, which made some key recommendations

Disability Rights UK was signatory to a petition against shared spaces, which was presented to PM Theresa May.

The Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation also carried out a review of shared space, Creating Better Streets: Inclusive and accessible places, which made a range of recommendations which the Department for Transport is also considering.

Inclusive Transport Strategy