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Access to transport for disabled people

Published Thursday, April 14, 2016

This paper explains the legislative frameworks that apply to public transport passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility.

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The main UK legislation is now consolidated in the Equality Act 2010, but much of the law as it relates to the treatment of disabled passengers and the services they can expect derives from various EU legislative instruments.

The UK is rapidly approaching the point where all buses, coaches and trains must be accessible to disabled people (January 2020) and in many cases these vehicles already meet the requirements. Taxis are also accessible in many parts of the country, though non-metropolitan urban areas and rural areas lag somewhat behind. There are also duties on air travel and sea travel providers to ensure that disabled people can access their services and expect a certain level of accommodation to their needs, though they can be denied travel on safety grounds.

Many day-to-day problems for disabled people stem from confusion over the rules, poor or insufficient communication, inadequate training, and/or a lack of enforcement. Issues where these concerns overlap include the provision of assistance on vehicles and at stations; the carriage of mobility scooters, and buggies and prams using wheelchair spaces on buses.

There are a number of organisations working to improve transport provision for disabled people and seeking to influence government policy. The Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) can provide expert information, advice and support on discrimination and human rights issues and the applicable law.

Information on other transport issues affecting disabled people, such as the Blue Badge parking scheme and the Motability vehicle scheme can be found on the Transport Topical Pages of the Parliament website.

Commons Briefing papers SN00601

Author: Louise Butcher

Topics: Aviation, Buses, Disability discrimination, Railways, Shipping

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