Transport disability standards 'need to improve'

18 September 2013

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

The Transport Committee thinks the government should take steps and improve disability access on public transport.

A report released today (September 18th) highlights many of the board's findings. The study was launched by the Transport Committee's chair, Louise Ellman.

She said: "In the UK some 11.5 million people already live with a recognised disability and more than a fifth of them experience some difficulty when using transport networks. So it's essential that the Department for Transport [DfT] delivers an ambitious accessibility action plan."

Part of these suggestions include the Cabinet Office establishing a dedicated group of officials and ministers - with an aim to developing accessibility across departments and sectors.

The committee argues that part of the 'momentum' gained from London 2012 and the Paralympics will be lost due to lack of improvements in accessibility, having been abandoned by DfT.

It was also suggested that encouragement would be needed for taxis and private hire vehicles. This would come in the form of financial incentives to operators with fully accessible vehicles, with a target of delivering a fleet of completely accessible taxi and private hire fleets in ten years. This, it recommends, could be achieved through the DfT working with the taxi trade and license authorities for a nationwide programme of awareness training.

Skills and training were further touched upon, with the committee putting forward the idea of national training schemes to raise disability awareness and relevant training. Such awareness and development was also encouraged for public buses.

Ms Ellman said: "On buses, the government's decision not to require all drivers to have basic training in disability awareness is unacceptable."

For trains, it wants services to get to the point where disabled passengers will not be required to book assistance in advance and DfT should ensure their needs are met by any new rail infrastructure.

When travelling by air, the committee wants to establish regulations where carers are not charged for flying if the disabled person is judged to be unable to independently travel. It compares this to a similar system already established in the US.

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