This paper explains the legislative frameworks and policies that apply to public transport users with disabilities or reduced mobility.Jump to full report >>
The main UK legislation is 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.
In August 2017 the Government published a draft Transport Accessibility Action Plan for consultation; followed in July 2018 by its Inclusive Transport Strategy, setting out how it wants the transport industry to move forwards in improving accessibility and how it intends to help the industry achieve this. It includes a number of actions to be achieved between 2018 and 2020.
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 Briefings Page of the Parliament website.
Commons Briefing papers SN00601
Author: Louise Butcher