The Department for Transport has set out its Inclusive Transport Strategy, which aims to improve accessibility across all types of travel for those with both visible and less visible disabilities
The Inclusive Transport 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 inject up to £300m of funding into extending the Access for All programme, making railway stations more accessible, including through step-free access.
Transport Accessibility Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “Transport is at the heart of how we live our lives. It helps us get to work, stay in touch with friends and family, and access vital services like healthcare and education.
“But for our ageing population and the fifth of people who are disabled, access to transport can be far from straightforward.
“This Inclusive Transport Strategy is the first step in achieving a genuinely inclusive transport network, which meets the needs of all people, regardless of whether they are disabled or not.”
The government has taken heed of the fact that in order to make the transport system more accessible it will take a lot of work. The physical infrastructure that will be required to achieve this will take time to build, but Government is hopeful of reaching full accessibility by 2030.
Other measures announced include supporting the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) to improve and simplify Passenger Assist – the system disabled passengers use to book assistance on the rail network.
Train operators will be held accountable for delivering on this service, ensuring they compensate passengers if the booked assistance is not provided.
Other Inclusive Transport Strategy measures announced include:
- £2m to install Changing Places toilets at motorway service stations
- £2m for audio and visual equipment on buses
- a £2m passenger awareness campaign to increase disability awareness
- an accreditation scheme for transport operators to receive formal recognition for positive work to improve disabled passengers’ experiences
- ensuring future technology is designed inclusively from the outset.
This work comes ahead of the government’s Aviation Strategy, which will set out further measures to improve the airport and flying experience for disabled people.
Keith Richards, Chair of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, commented:
“DPTAC welcomes the publication of the ITS and the government’s commitments to better meeting the needs of disabled people. Our role, as independent statutory advisor, is to offer our advice as the ITS is delivered. As a ‘critical friend’ we will hold the government to account for delivering the strategy and for securing good outcomes for disabled people”
Nic Bungay, Director of Campaigns, Care and Information at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said:
“Muscular Dystrophy UK welcomes the Department for Transport’s plans to make public transport more accessible for everyone and is encouraged to see investment in this area. Our campaigners have worked hard over the years to push for improvements and, while we know there is still a long way to go until people with disabilities have full accessibility, this announcement shows we are heading in the right direction.
“As the co-chairs of the Changing Places Consortium, we are also pleased that funding has been committed to installing these fully accessible facilities at motorway service stations across the country, and we look forward to working with DfT as these are put in place.”
Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive at disability charity Scope, added: “It’s positive to see this commitment from the government. There is a lot of work to do to bring our transport system up to scratch.
“Disabled people face unnecessary difficulties using all parts of the transport network every day.
“Scope’s research shows 40% of disabled people experience problems using trains. From airports to buses we’ve heard too many horror stories of disabled people let down by poor infrastructure, bad service, or being treated as an afterthought. This urgently needs to change.
“A genuinely inclusive transport network will make it much easier for disabled people to get to work, see family, and be part of their community.”
The Inclusive Transport Strategy also includes raising awareness and enforcement of passengers’ rights, staff training and improvements to accessible information.