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The Inclusive Transport Strategy: Achieving Equal Access For Disabled People

The Inclusive Transport Strategy: Achieving Equal Access For Disabled People

Ministerial foreword

A society that works for all

Transport is at the heart of how we live our lives. It helps us get to work, stay in touch with friends and family, contribute to society and access vital services like healthcare and education. Easy access to transport is central to building a stronger, fairer economy.

While many take for granted the ability to travel easily from A to B, this is not the reality for everyone. For our ageing population, and the fifth of people who identify as having some sort of disability, access to transport can be far from straightforward. That is why this Government is determined to make sure that disabled people have the same access to transport as everyone else, and that they are able to travel easily, confidently and without extra cost. We have a manifesto commitment to get a million more disabled people into work by 2027, and this Strategy will help to deliver that.

I have been encouraged by the increasing awareness among transport operators of the need to design and deliver their services in a genuinely inclusive way, in particular the greater recognition that less visible disabilities such as autism, dementia or anxiety can be just as much of a barrier to travel as a visible disability.

However, there is much still to be done if we are to realise our ambition of delivering real change for disabled people on our transport networks, and achieving our goal of creating a transport system offering equal access for disabled people by 2030.

This strategy builds on the responses received to our 2017 consultation on a draft Accessibility Action Plan, and sets out how we will deliver the necessary changes to our transport networks, both through government interventions and working in partnership with industry and others.

Some of this will naturally take time, in particular where improvements to our infrastructure or legislative changes are required. However there are many things which can be done quickly and at relatively low cost, such as improving the training of staff, making information more accessible and ensuring existing legislation is properly enforced. This Strategy sets out an ambitious programme of work to deliver these improvements over the next few years. Taking steps such as supporting the establishment by the industry of a Rail Ombudsman to investigate unresolved customer complaints, or introducing real-time information on the availability of assistance and services will make a real difference for disabled people.

In the longer term, we also want to ensure that all future transport technologies and services are designed in a genuinely inclusive way, opening up new opportunities for disabled people. This will form a central part of the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge set out in the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

This Strategy will only be successful if properly implemented, so it also sets out a clear programme of monitoring and evaluation and a new governance framework to ensure we hold ourselves to account. Alongside regular reporting to Parliament, a new stakeholder advisory group will be established involving local government, transport operators, disabled people’s organisations and charities. In developing this Strategy, I have met with many of the organisations representing disabled people, as well as the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC). I will continue to meet with DPTAC regularly, and look forward to meeting the new advisory group in the near future. I intend to bring these groups together with the internal programme board ever year to review progress.

Delivering the ambitions set out in this Strategy will require work across Government, for instance improving journeys to hospitals. In May, the Government announced that the Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions will chair a new inter-ministerial group on Disabled People and Society. The Department for Transport will play a key role in this group and will ensure the goals set out in this Strategy receive the support they need from across Government.

We have come a long way, but a genuinely inclusive transport system will be central to this Government’s mission to build a country that works for everyone. There is much still to be done and Government cannot do this on its own. I look forward to working with the many groups, organisations and individuals who will all have an important role to play in making this happen.

Thank you for your support.

Nusrat Ghani
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport

DPTAC Chair foreword

DPTAC’s vision is that disabled people should have the same access to transport as everybody else, to be able to go where everyone else goes and to do so easily, confidently and without extra cost. The DfT’s Inclusive Transport Strategy has the potential to be a key vehicle for achieving the improvements that are needed. What brings the Strategy to life are its clarity, ambition, and set of practical actions across all transport modes and the built environment that connects them.

To keep the strategy alive and relevant it is essential to monitor and track improvements over time, to have clear deliverable outcomes, to use robust regulatory activity and enforcement, and to provide easy access to redress for consumers when things go wrong. The Strategy brings welcome attention to all of these important issues.

DPTAC’s focus is on making sure that the Department delivers accessibility for disabled people in all areas of its work, that it understands and takes full account of the interests of disabled people in the way it develops policy, plans its strategy, carries out its monitoring, regulatory and enforcement work, and in the way it helps and guides consumers and the industry.

Crucially, the Strategy presents an opportunity to speed up the pace of change in a number of key areas, particularly around staff training, the availability of accessible information, and the ability to secure redress when things go wrong.

There’s no denying that we have seen significant improvements in the accessibility of transport over the last few decades, largely driven by changes in the law. But there has also been an increasing recognition that tapping into the £249 billion of spending power of households with a disabled person in them makes good business sense for the transport sector, and that ensuring that all disabled people have full access to work, healthcare, and a social life makes good sense for the economy.

The availability of free, easy-to-use and binding redress is a very important driver of improved business behaviour in any sector. The introduction of a Rail Ombudsman will be a significant benefit for consumers and will improve service quality. We want to see this model developed to cover all transport modes, giving confidence to disabled consumers that should they face poor quality service, or exclusion, on any part of their journey their dispute will be sorted quickly and the likelihood of it happening again in future reduced.

Of particular note in the Strategy is the much-needed work to raise awareness within the DfT about its Public Sector Equality Duty, aimed at ensuring that the needs of all people with protected characteristics are fully considered as part of transport policy development and delivery.

Every journey is door-to-door, so consistency of expectation and experience across local, regional, national and international transport is key to ensure the outcome of accessibility is achieved. This Strategy takes that whole journey approach.

Publication of this Strategy is just one step on an ongoing journey. DPTAC has played a key role in its development and of the actions that underpin it, and we will continue to hold the Department to account after publication. We will also continue to advice, challenge, inspire and influence all of those we talk to with one aim – to bring about real change that improves access to transport for disabled people, using this Strategy and future iterations as a toolbox to achieve that change.

Keith Richards
Chair of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee

Executive summary

This Strategy sets out the Government’s plans to make our transport system more inclusive, and to make travel easier for disabled people. While it is focused on the inclusion of disabled people, many of the improvements will also benefit other travellers.

Chapter 1 sets out the Government’s ambition for disabled people to have the same access to transport as everyone else, and to be able to travel confidently, easily and without extra cost. By 2030, we envisage equal access for disabled people using the transport system, with assistance if physical infrastructure remains a barrier.

Chapter 2 explains why the Government has moved from an Accessibility Action Plan to a more holistic Inclusive Transport Strategy, encompassing a wide range of measures to support people with both visible and less visible impairments. It sets out the Strategy’s five main themes:

  • Awareness and enforcement of passenger rights – raising awareness of the obligations on transport operators, the processes for raising concerns or complaints and working with regulators to hold operators to account.
  • Staff training – ensuring that transport staff (frontline and managerial) understand the needs of disabled people with physical, mental, cognitive or sensory impairments, and can provide better assistance.
  • Improving information – ensuring that transport operators provide travel information in formats that all passengers can easily access and understand, before and during a journey.
  • Improving physical infrastructure – ensuring that vehicles, stations and streetscapes are designed, built and operated so that they are easy to use for all.
  • The future of inclusive transport – ensuring that technological advances and new business models provide opportunities for all, and that disabled people are involved from the outset in their design.

Chapter 3 describes the progress that has been made to date, as well as the different ways in which funding has been made available to improve transport infrastructure and services. This includes:

  • More than £500 million of funding available to deliver accessible rail routes since 2006, such as the redevelopment of Birmingham New Street station.
  • Continued funding for Mobility Centres which offer clinical expertise and professional high quality information, advice and assessment to people who need to gain or retain independence through mobility.
  • Research and innovation competitions, such as the Rail Accessibility Competition and the Transport Technology Research Innovation Grant.
  • Over £2.5 billion on mobility awards in 2017/18.
  • Around £1 billion each year on concessionary fares for older and disabled people using local bus services.

Chapter 4 sets out disabled passengers’ rights and the service they can expect to receive in each mode of transport (with more detail provided in annex B). It also presents the key advances travellers can expect to see as a result of the Strategy.

Chapter 5 explains how the Government will raise awareness of the rights of disabled travellers, and how it will ensure better enforcement of existing legislation. It announces the launch of a new public awareness campaign, working with a wide range of partners, including DPTAC, to promote ways of positively interacting with disabled people in order to ensure a supportive travelling experience and reduce instances of disability related hate crime on transport. Other key commitments include:

  • Working with the rail industry and consumer groups we will support the establishment of a Rail Ombudsman to investigate unresolved customer complaints and issue decisions that are binding on the industry.
  • We will identify a framework to ensure bus operators are implementing mandatory bus driver training.
  • We will ensure that disabled travellers are fully aware of their rights and the obligations of transport operators, and that easily accessible information is available in a variety of formats on how to raise complaints.
  • We will promote the assistance and financial savings available to disabled travellers, through schemes such as the Disabled Persons Railcard, the Passenger Assist scheme for rail travel and disabled bus concessions.
  • We will require a minimum target for the successful completion of booked assistance through the Passenger Assist scheme, and ensure that train operators who fail to deliver the assistance booked will provide financial compensation to passengers.
  • We will support regulators to promote information about the rights of disabled travellers, as well as developing easier ways to register complaints when things go wrong.
  • We will release an online tool to assist disabled people in reporting issues they encounter when travelling by bus, with the development of this tool being informed by the experiences of disabled people.
  • We will consult on revised best practice guidance to support local licensing authorities (LLAs) to use their existing powers in respect of taxis and private hire vehicles more effectively.
  • We will work with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to review performance standards for airports and airlines, using the upcoming Aviation Strategy to set out any areas in which these standards need to be tougher.
  • We will review the powers the CAA has to enforce regulations and strengthen them if evidence suggests this is required.

Chapter 6 sets out actions to improve the training that those delivering transport services receive. It includes commitments to develop a disability awareness training package setting out how transport staff can provide effective customer service to disabled people. This package will be made available to all transport operators and will be incorporated into an inclusive transport leaders’ scheme through which transport operators will be expected to make further commitments to improve the services they provide to disabled people. Other key commitments include:

  • Ensuring that transport operators and providers train frontline staff and senior management on disability awareness, involving disabled people in the development and delivery of this training.
  • Publicising good practice and leading the way by providing disability awareness training for DfT staff.
  • Ensuring that all public transport bodies understand their obligations under the Public Sector Equality Duty in relation to planning and delivering transport, and that they understand the risks of legal proceedings brought by the public or through enforcement action by the Equality and Human Rights Commission for non-compliance.

Chapter 7 explains the steps the Department will take to ensure disabled passengers can access the right information to help them plan their journey, including journey-planning information as well as real-time information on the availability of assistance and services. It also describes the steps that will be taken to create a more inclusive travelling experience, including by addressing instances of disability-related hate crime. Key commitments include:

  • Legislation to ensure the provision of on-board audible and visible upcoming stop and route information is installed on local bus services across Great Britain. We will also provide £2 million of new funding to help bus operators install the necessary equipment more quickly.
  • We will increase the availability of data on accessibility and, where possible, produce league tables to better inform disabled people. We will also publicise the work undertaken by individual operators to improve inclusivity.
  • We will ensure transport providers improve the availability of information particularly in relation to accessibility services such as toilets.
  • We will work with Train Operating Companies to help ensure that all disabled passengers are aware of the Passenger Assist service
  • We will work with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) to review the eligibility criteria for the Disabled Persons Rail Card.
  • We will also work with the RDG and innovators in the technology sector to provide improved information about the accessibility of stations, including the development of an accessibility map by the RDG.
  • We will work with the aviation industry to improve the information and advice available to disabled adults and children travelling by air. We will set out these actions in the Aviation Strategy green paper in the autumn of 2018.

Chapter 8 sets out the physical infrastructure changes which will be made to make it easier for disabled people to access transport. This includes the steps that will be taken to make journeys by car easier for disabled people, including £2 million of new funding to increase significantly the numbers of Changing Places facilities at motorway service areas. It will also address concerns about pavement parking. It sets out the steps the Department is taking to encourage local licensing authorities to increase the numbers of wheelchair-accessible taxis and private hire vehicles, as well as what the Department will do to improve the experiences of disabled people on buses, at airports and on journeys to hospitals. Key commitments include:

  • We will make up to £300 million available for rail accessibility improvements during the period 2019-2024.
  • We will kick-start improvements in physical infrastructure with a new £2 million fund for industry to deliver a rapid step-change in the availability of Changing Places facilities across the motorway network, allowing the majority of motorway service areas to have them in place by the early 2020s.
  • We will invest £2 million towards ensuring audio visual equipment is installed on buses.
  • We will recommend that local authorities pause the development of shared space schemes while we review and update the Department’s guidance.
  • We will update the Department’s Inclusive Mobility and Tactile Paving guidance.
  • We will publish each year a list of those authorities which do, and do not, publish lists of wheelchair accessible taxis.
  • We will 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.
  • We will gather evidence on pavement parking, including on the effectiveness of current laws, and potential alternatives.
  • We will publish an Aviation Strategy for consultation, which will contain policy proposals to improve disabled people’s access to, and experience of, using aviation.

Chapter 9 describes some of the ways in which the transport system is likely to change over the years ahead, including the introduction of new technologies and business models such as mobility as a service and connected and autonomous vehicles. With inclusivity designed in from the start, these new technologies and business models could transform mobility for disabled people. But without the right regulatory framework, people with reduced mobility could find themselves excluded from new models and find the existing services they rely on severely disrupted. This chapter therefore explains what the Government will do to ensure that these changes are delivered in such a way as to allow everyone, including disabled people, to benefit from them. Key commitments include:

  • We will set a clear direction to industry on the importance of inclusive design as part of future innovation through the forthcoming Future of Urban Mobility Call for Evidence.
  • We will ensure that accessibility is considered throughout the Future of Mobility Regulatory Review. This will include examining whether new regulation is needed to ensure that emerging technologies and services are accessible.
  • We will engage directly with disabled people and organisations as part of our development of future transport strategy.
  • We will ensure that DfT innovation competitions highlight the need for prospective funding recipients to consider accessibility and inclusive design within their project proposals.

Chapter 10 sets out how the Government will hold itself to account for the delivery of this Strategy. Key commitments include:

  • Within six months of the publication of this Strategy we will publish a monitoring and evaluation framework specifying key output indicators to assess our progress against our ambition and actions.
  • We will report to Parliament on the delivery of the Strategy a year after publication and regularly thereafter.
  • We will create a new stakeholder advisory group, the Pan-disability Transport Advisory Group (PTAG), to provide external support in rolling out the actions in the Strategy.
  • We will use the new Inter-Ministerial Group on Disabled People and Society to ensure cross-government support for the actions in the Strategy.

Annex A is a list of the local licensing authorities with the highest proportion of wheelchair accessible vehicles in their taxi fleets.

Annex B is a summary of the key rights of disabled passengers using the transport system, and how to make complaints where these are not being upheld.

1. The Government’s ambition for inclusive transport

Our ambition

Our vision is for disabled people to have the same access to transport as everyone else. They will travel confidently, easily and without extra cost.

By 2030 we envisage equal access for disabled people using the transport system, with assistance if physical infrastructure remains a barrier.

1.1 As part of our ambition to build a society that works for all, the Government wants to make the transport system inclusive and able to meet the needs of all people regardless of whether they are disabled or not. Our goal is for disabled people to be able to access the transport system easily, confidently and at no extra cost. In turn this will support the Government’s wider commitments to enable a million more disabled people to take up employment over the next 10 years, to secure 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020 (PDF, 1,277KB), and to tackle loneliness.

1.2 There has been significant progress in transport accessibility in recent years, partly driven by legislative developments, culminating in the Equality Act 2010. However, there are still a number of areas within transport provision where improvements are needed. Much of our rail infrastructure was built in the Victorian era when the needs of disabled people were simply not considered in the same way as they are today. In addition, whilst we have seen improvements in the accessibility of our roads, light rail, maritime and aviation sectors we still have some way to go to ensuring that transport operators provide disabled people with the information they need to use transport services. Further work is also needed to secure shared industry standards for staff training on disability awareness and ensure that this training enables staff to provide good customer service, and that there is a simple, effective process for addressing instances when something goes wrong.

1.3 Our aim is to see ongoing change in the transport system, both in terms of design, physical access and customer service that gives disabled people the confidence to travel. We recognise that whilst technological change can happen quickly, societal and organisational change can take time and given the number of transport operators, providers and regulators in the sector, this will be best achieved by an evolution, not revolution, of the transport system. Therefore, in this Inclusive Transport Strategy, we have set a number of short to medium term objectives as well as longer term aspirations for the kind of transport system we wish to create for the future. Only by creating a clear plan for change with related timescales for delivery, by continually challenging ourselves, and by being held to account by transport users, disabled people’s organisations, the Minister for Disabled People’s transport sector champions and our independent statutory advisory committee, the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC), will we be truly ambitious.

1.4 The benefits to creating an inclusive transport system are undeniable. Transport has the ability to open doors, to unlock potential and to increase confidence. It enables people to see family and friends as well as seek and access employment. It can make the difference between feeling socially isolated and feeling socially included. But transport can also be one of the biggest barriers faced by disabled people with some people having difficulty physically accessing services, struggling to plan their journeys due to a lack of accessible travel information or having negative experiences with transport staff or other passengers which knocks their confidence in travelling. By providing a truly inclusive transport system, we can help increase independence for all.

1.5 We believe in a transport system that meets the needs of all travellers. In some cases this will mean retrofitting existing systems, but our ambition is to build upon our existing legislation and continue to progress towards a position where all new systems and infrastructure are designed and built with inclusivity established at the outset. As our transport system evolves, new opportunities will become available through developments such as demand responsive transport and connected and autonomous vehicles. It is essential that these developments are made with proper engagement between the transport sector and disabled people in order to maximise the opportunities these future technologies can offer and avoid the creation of further gaps between those who can easily access transport and those who cannot.

1.6 We believe that a more inclusive transport system will create a more prosperous transport industry. There are real commercial benefits to improving access and ease of transport, not only to disabled people but for all transport users. From staff training which meets the needs of the individual to audio visual travel information, and infrastructure planned and built around the travelling public – a more inclusive transport system will result in more passengers, jobs and customers for all.

1.7 We cannot achieve this ambition in isolation however. We will work across Government (through the Inter-Ministerial Group on Disabled People and Society), and with local authorities, transport operators and regulators to deliver our ambitions and aspirations. We will also need to engage the travelling public who can play a large part in making transport more inclusive by being considerate of the needs and experiences of others. We want our ambition to be a shared ambition. This is why we asked for views on our draft Accessibility Action Plan and why, throughout the development of this Strategy, we have worked closely with the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) and other stakeholders. We will continue to do so as we implement this Strategy over the short, medium and long term. By working together we will fulfil our ambition for an inclusive transport system.

Our objectives

1.8 Our ambition is to deliver a transport system which enables disabled people to access and confidently use transport. We will deliver these goals through the key themes of the Inclusive Transport Strategy:

1 Promotion of passenger rights and enforcement – All passengers should be clear on what the service they can expect, and confident that reporting non-compliance will lead to enforcement.
2 Better Staff Training – Transport staff (frontline and managerial) should have greater understanding of the needs of disabled people and their legal rights, and therefore provide better assistance.
3 Improved Information – Information should be provided in formats that all passengers can access and understand, both before and during a journey.
4 Inclusive Physical infrastructure – Vehicles, stations and streetscapes should be designed and built so that they are inclusive and easy to use.
5 Future of Inclusive Transport – New services and business models enabled by advances in technology should provide opportunities for all, and be designed from the outset with disabled people in mind.

1.9 Specifically, we will:

  • Ensure that transport operators and providers train frontline staff and senior management on disability awareness, involving disabled people in the development and delivery of this training wherever possible.
  • Publicise good practice training guidance to support this, and as part of encouraging take up, will lead the way by providing disability equality and awareness training for DfT staff as part of our staff development programmes.
  • Work to ensure that all public transport bodies understand their obligations under the Public Sector Equality Duty within the Equality Act 2010 in relation to planning and delivering transport, and they are clear that there are risks of legal proceedings brought by the public or through enforcement action by the Equality and Human Rights Commission for non-compliance.
  • Ensure that disabled travellers are fully aware of their rights and the obligations of transport operators, and know how to raise complaints if needed, by the provision of easily accessible information in a variety of formats.
  • Work with the rail industry to support the establishment of a Rail Ombudsman to investigate unresolved customer complaints and issue decisions that the industry are obliged to comply with.
  • Establish a framework to ensure bus operators are implementing mandatory bus driver training.
  • Increase transparency and accountability in relation to the inclusivity of the transport system. We will publish data on accessibility and where possible publicise the work undertaken by individual operators to improve inclusivity.
  • Continue to make clear that we expect transport regulators to take action against operators that do not make progress, pushing them to use the powers that they have to take robust action against non-compliance, and further strengthening their powers where needed.
  • Launch a public awareness campaign, working with a wide range of partners, including DPTAC, to promote ways of positively interacting with disabled people in order to ensure a supportive travelling experience and reduce instances of disability related hate crime on transport.
  • Promote the assistance and financial savings available to disabled travellers, through schemes such as the Disabled Persons Railcard, the Passenger Assist scheme for rail travel and disabled bus concessions in order to increase take up of these schemes.
  • Take action to ensure transport providers improve the availability of information particularly in relation to real time information on accessibility services such as toilets.
  • Kick-start improvements in physical infrastructure by investing £2 million to install more Changing Places facilities at motorway service areas across England and £2 million on installing audio visual equipment on buses, and challenge the transport industry to follow our lead.
  • Invest up to £300 million to extend the programme to deliver accessible routes, including step free access, at railway stations until at least 2024.
  • Recommend that Local Authorities pause the development of shared space schemes which incorporate a level surface while we review and update guidance. Alongside this, we will temporarily withdraw Local Transport Note 1/11: Shared Space
  • Ensure future technology is designed inclusively and opportunities are sought out to harness innovation.

2. The policy context

Inclusive transport is a Government priority

2.1 Disability affects 13.9 million people in the UK and can include visible disabilities (sometimes requiring physical aids) or less visible disabilities such as cognitive or sensory impairments or other medical conditions such as permanent nerve damage, back conditions, diabetes and heart conditions.

2.2 The importance of connectivity cannot be underestimated. Being able to travel can help facilitate social networks and improve access to employment or education. It can also promote self-esteem and wellbeing through leisure visits, travelling and simply ‘leaving the house for its own sake’. However, for many people, the provision of travel which is accessible to them can be too inconsistent to allow for full independence. The Government is taking action to close this gap in provision, and this Strategy fits with other Government policies to increase levels of employment for disabled people, reduce loneliness in society and support independent living.

The ageing population

2.3 The UK’s population is ageing. By 2040, 13% of the UK population will be aged over 75 – an increase from 8% today. While many people maintain high levels of mobility and health into old age, disability has a higher prevalence as people age. In 2016/17, 45% of State Pension age adults reported having a disability; this compares to only 19% of working-age adults. Conditions arising from ageing can take many forms, but will often result in a combination of symptoms, including some loss of vision and hearing, stiffness of joints, and reduction in the ability to walk long distances. These conditions can have a dramatic effect on a person’s ability to travel.

2.4 Taking forward the commitment for a Grand Challenge on Ageing, the Prime Minister announced in May that the first mission of the Grand Challenge would be for people to enjoy an extra five years of healthy and independent living by 2035, whilst also narrowing the gap between the richest and poorest. Achieving this would mean that everyone benefits from improved quality of life to match our increased longevity.

2.5 Making this a reality will require co-ordinated action to improve health, but also new thinking about how our environment and society can support people to age well. Core to this will be supporting people to remain active and able to connect with their families and communities, and transport has a significant role to play. This is why we are looking at how the Ageing Grand Challenge and the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge can work together to address the needs of an ageing population.

Improving connectivity to reduce loneliness

2.6 Disability and poor health are associated with an increased risk of loneliness, with research showing that two-thirds of disabled people have felt lonely in the past year. The Government’s forthcoming Loneliness Strategy, to be published later this year, will set out a range of initiatives to help tackle loneliness, including amongst disabled people. An inclusive transport system will enable disabled and older people to be more mobile and so better able to establish and maintain their own social connections, reducing their risk of loneliness. By acting to improve the inclusivity of transport now we will help lay the foundation on which the Government can achieve its ambition to build more connected and resilient communities for the future.

Inclusive transport supports employment

2.7 Inclusive and reliable transport is essential to giving disabled people the confidence to travel and opening up access to employment. Between April and June last year, the employment rate of disabled people was 49%, significantly lower than the rate for non-disabled people – 80%. This meant that 3.8 million disabled people of working age were unemployed.

2.8 This Government is committed to getting one million additional disabled people into work by 2027. The specific workplace initiatives formulated to deliver this pledge were set out in the Government’s White Paper, Improving Lives. The Inclusive Transport Strategy will deliver the transport improvements needed to enable disabled people to access, and feel more confident using, the transport system in order to get to work and pursue social and leisure interests.

A more inclusive transport system supports business

2.9 A transport system that is reliable and easy to navigate will improve the experience of all using it, not only disabled people. For example, provision of next stop announcements on buses makes travel easier for visually impaired people or those with anxiety, but also for inexperienced travellers and tourists.

2.10 Giving disabled people the confidence to travel opens up fair and equal access to opportunity and success. More disabled people on our transport system means more passengers, a larger workforce and more customers for local businesses. Households with a disabled person in them had a spending power of £249 billion in 2014/15 (PDF, 93KB) and, as the population ages, this spending power is likely to increase. This Government wants to see transport operators and local businesses providing for this growing market.

Future transport needs to be inclusive

2.11 The Future of Mobility Grand Challenge established in the Industrial Strategy recognises that we are beginning to experience profound change in how we move people, goods and services around. This is driven by extraordinary innovation in engineering, technology and business models.

2.12 Technological developments such as more open data, and innovations such as connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) have the potential to benefit many disabled people. The fresh thinking offered through innovation could unlock benefits for many, but these will require industry to adopt an inclusive approach to product and service design which will involve active engagement with disabled people.

From accessible transport to inclusive transport

2.13 This Government wants to deliver a fully inclusive transport system. Our desire is to move from infrastructure design and service provision which focuses mainly on achieving ‘accessible transport’ (i.e. retrofitting existing infrastructure to meet the needs of disabled people) to delivering ‘inclusive travel’, (i.e. with services designed through dialogue with disabled people and other groups so that the needs of transport users are identified upfront). Such an approach removes the focus on infrastructure and takes a more holistic approach to the wide range of measures that can support people with visible and less visible impairments.

The draft Accessibility Action Plan consultation

2.14 The Department ran a public consultation on the draft Accessibility Action Plan (AAP) between 24th August and 22nd November 2017. The draft included 48 actions which were intended to address the gaps in existing provision which serve as a barrier to disabled people. In total, over 1000 responses were received and more than 100 people expressed their views at five public consultation events. Responses to the consultation were submitted by a mixture of individuals and organisations, including national and local disabled people’s organisations and groups representing disabled people, local authorities, transport operators and regulators.

2.15 There were a number of recurring themes across the responses received to the consultation:

  • Promotion of passenger rights and obligations on transport providers, many disabled people lacked awareness of the levels of service they could expect from transport providers and the complaints and enforcement procedures available for addressing poor service.
  • Improved staff awareness, respondents called for a greater understanding by transport staff of the needs of disabled people (including less visible disabilities).
  • Better enforcement of statutory regulations, for example, the carriage of assistance dogs in taxis and private hire vehicles.
  • More information on service accessibility, including more information on the accessibility of transport infrastructure and vehicles to help plan journeys, and real time alerts on the availability of related services, including lifts or accessible toilets.
  • Higher provision of reliable accessible infrastructure, ranging from less cluttered pavements to more Access for All rail infrastructure.
  • Staffing on the railway, where many respondents stated that visibility of staff on the railway was an important function for disabled people travelling by rail.

2.16 In parallel to this Strategy, the Department has also published a summary of the feedback received to the AAP consultation, titled ‘Draft Accessibility Action Plan Consultation: Summary of Responses’. The feedback gathered through the consultation has contributed to the development of this Strategy.

Structure of the Inclusive Transport Strategy

2.17 Drawing on consultation responses, we have identified five core areas we need to address in order to achieve our goal of delivering equal access to transport for all.

2.18 The structure of this Strategy is therefore based around the following themes:

  • Staff training. We will work with transport regulators and providers to ensure that transport staff (frontline and managerial) have greater understanding of the needs of disabled people and can provide better assistance.
  • Awareness and enforcement of passenger rights. We will raise awareness of the obligations on transport operators, the processes for raising concerns or complaints and work with regulators to ensure appropriate penalties – which can include fines or use of enforcement powers set out in legislation – are applied.
  • Improving information. We will take steps to ensure that transport providers improve the provision of travel information in formats that all passengers can access and understand, both before and during a journey, thereby improving confidence to travel.
  • Improving physical infrastructure. We will work with transport providers, transport professionals and Local Authorities to ensure that vehicles, stations and streetscapes are designed, built and operated so that they are inclusive and easy to use for disabled people.
  • The future of inclusive transport. We will use our role as Government to ensure that technological advances and new business models provide opportunities for all, and are designed from the outset through dialogue with disabled people as well as consider future demographic change.

2.19 The Inclusive Transport Strategy is therefore structured as follows:

  • Introduction and policy context
  • Recent developments and funding
  • Outline disabled passenger rights and the services they can expect to receive in each mode of transport.
  • Themed chapters setting out detailed actions and policies
  • Monitoring, evaluation and governance arrangements for the Strategy.

3. Recent developments

3.1 This Government has made significant improvements over the past few years to support disabled people to become more independent. Whilst we acknowledge that there are still many areas where further work is needed to make the transport system fully accessible, we have kick-started a process of ongoing change, as set out in the following sections.

Funding

3.2 The Government has invested heavily in supporting disabled people, both by improving transport accessibility, and more widely. Some examples of recent expenditure that has been used to support improved access for disabled people are shown below.

Transport expenditure

  • Access for All: Funded by DfT and delivered largely by Network Rail. Since the programme was launched in 2006, more than £500m has been invested to deliver accessible routes, including step free access, at over 200 stations. A further 1500 stations have also benefitted from smaller scale access improvements. In addition we will be making up to £300m available to extend the programme until at least 2024.
  • Rail industry access improvements: Whenever the industry installs, replaces or renews infrastructure work at stations it must meet current accessibility standards.
  • Station improvement funds: All of the work carried out using funds which have been provided by the Department to improve existing stations or build new stations must also meet these standards. These funds have included the National Station Improvement Programme, the Station Commercial Project Facility and the New Stations Fund.
  • Through rail franchises: Train operators’ franchise agreements include requirements for them to fund improvements at stations, which in some cases are focussed on improving the accessibility of a station (PDF, 5,842KB). Examples of funds which have been used to do this include the Minor Works Budget, the Station Improvement Fund and the Customer and Community Investment Scheme.
  • Community Bus Fund: This £25m fund allowed community transport operators, who meet the necessary criteria, to bid for a new minibus to replace or expand their existing fleet.
  • Major projects: the Department has funded a number of major projects which incorporate accessibility improvements, such as the redevelopment of London Bridge station, and the Crossrail project. All Crossrail stations will be step-free, and Crossrail trains will meet the latest accessibility standards.
  • HS2: HS2 Ltd has committed to delivering inclusive design in the widest context, so that all considerations and plans (booking and planning a route, arriving at and navigating around the station as well as undertaking the journey itself) are based on engagement with disabled people. These design principles represent a commitment to futureproofing HS2’s trains against the changing needs of future passengers and technological advances in facilities.
  • Mobility Centres: the Department provides funding to contribute to the running of 13 Mobility Centres in England, which provide a range of mobility assessments and advice. Funding has increased from less than £3m in 2010/11 to nearly £5.5m in 2018/19.
  • Research: the Department has carried out a range of research projects on accessibility, including through the Transport Technology Research and Innovation Grant scheme – these projects totalled around £220,000 between 2015/16 and 2018/19.
  • Innovation competitions: In September 2017, the Department launched two innovation competitions, valued at £600,000 and run by the Rail Safety and Standards Board. We sought solutions where challenges remain (especially for those with mental, cognitive and developmental impairments) and where cost-savings could be made. These competitions create opportunities to target innovation funds towards developing low-cost solutions where traditional solutions have proved prohibitively expensive.
  • Small Business Research Initiative on Dementia: In 2017 the Department provided funding of £120,000 for a project with the Welsh Government to produce a dementia-friendly app to assist people who experience high levels of anxiety when travelling to and from hospital appointments.
  • Total Transport Fund: In 2015 the Government announced £8m of funding for this programme which provided funding to 38 local authorities to explore the feasibility of better integration of transport and services, including of non-emergency patient transport with tendered local bus services.
  • Concessionary fares: Local Authorities have a statutory obligation to provide free off-peak travel for older and disabled people on all local buses, as well as the powers to offer additional local concessions. In 2016/17, over £1 billion was spent by Local Authorities in England on statutory and discretionary concessions for 9.8 million disabled and older travel pass holders (with the number of disabled holders showing a 23% increase in the last six years).

Wider Government expenditure

3.3 Examples of expenditure by other Government Departments include:

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP): the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP’s) scheme to help individuals with the extra costs associated with long-term ill health and disability. One part of the payment is for ‘Mobility’, and is based on an individual’s ability to get around. We estimate that In 2017/18 Government spent roughly £2.5 billion on mobility awards, which could include provisions towards Motability vehicles.
  • Job Centre Plus – Flexible Support Fund (FSF): Local Job Centre Plus branches have the capability to give discretionary assistance to individuals travelling to an interview, undergoing training or in their first month of employment. An example case for grant consideration is lack of accessible transport locally for a disabled person. Since 2015, over £210 million has been budgeted across England for the FSF.
  • Access to Work (AtW): Currently, DWP provides Access to Work payments to support people whose ill health or impairment would make it hard to do their job without additional workplace or related adjustment. In terms of transport, payments can include provision for taxi and PHV fares if accessible public transport is not available locally, or support workers to assist an individual on their journey. Over £250m has been spent on transport related AtW payments since 2010.
  • Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE): The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is the sponsor for the ACRE Grant in Aid Investment Programme. The ACRE Network of 38 community-based charities uses direct funding from DEFRA and other sources to help deliver rural community projects, including helping people with ill-health reach hospitals accessibly, and transporting older people at risk of isolation. Since 2012, over £1.4 million of DEFRA’s grant has been invested in transport projects supported by ACRE and the Network.

Recent developments

3.4 As a result of the Government’s action and investment, we have seen many developments in recent years that will improve the travelling experience for disabled people, including:

  • In 2016 those with a mobility difficulty made an average of 603 trips per person per year, an increase of 5.9% compared to 2014 (569 trips per person per year);
  • 98% of buses in England in 2016/17 are compliant with the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations, up from 28% in 2004/05;
  • 78% of the mainline rail fleet is compliant with modern accessibility standards, up from 42% in 2008;
  • 58% of taxis in England in 2017 are wheelchair accessible;
  • 1.2 million vehicles were in the disabled tax class, which was 3% of all licensed vehicles, at the end of 2017;
  • Since 2006, more than 200 stations have had accessible step free routes installed under Access for All. This is in addition to access improvements delivered by the industry or as part of other major projects. In addition, 75% of rail journeys are now through step-free stations. This compares with only 50% in 2005
  • 2.38m Blue Badges were held in England as at 31 March 2017, up 0.2% on the previous year.
  • There were a total of 1,131 individuals prosecuted in England in 2016/17 for misuse of a Blue Badge. The majority of these prosecutions (98%) were targeted at a non-badge holder using another person’s badge. This was a 26% increase in prosecutions compared to the previous year, but this may in part be due to the larger number of authorities which reported having a prosecutions policy in 2016/17.
  • 932,000 concessionary disabled bus passes were held in 2016/17, a 23% increase since 2010/11.
  • 356,000 rail passenger bookings were made in 2016/17 for assistance through the National Passenger Assistance Booking System, 22% higher than in 2012/13.
  • 9,041 driving assessments and 656 driving review assessments were provided in 2016/17 by Mobility Centres, 47% more assessments than in 2012/13.

3.5 In addition, we have:

  • Introduced the Bus Services Act 2017 which provided powers to require the provision of audible and visible announcements on buses throughout Great Britain to help passengers travel independently;
  • Ensured that all bus drivers on local and scheduled services are legally required to undertake disability equality and awareness training, helping to ensure that they can provide every passenger with the assistance they require;
  • Consulted on widening Blue Badge eligibility, for example to people with mental or cognitive impairments;
  • Let a research contract to establish the scope of any revisions to the Tactile Paving and Inclusive Mobility guidance documents;
  • Created offences under UK law relating to maritime passenger rights. The Merchant Shipping (Passengers’ Rights) Regulations 2013 came into force on 27 March 2013;
  • Delivered improvements for disabled passengers at airports. The Civil Aviation Authority launched in 2015/16 a new Airport Accessibility reporting process in a bid to drive up improvements for disabled passengers. A performance framework was developed in conjunction with industry and disability groups and evaluates the airport against a number of criteria including the passenger assistance service, customer satisfaction levels and how much consultation the airports have undertaken with organisations who represent those with disabilities. The report highlights those airports that are falling below what government would consider acceptable when offering assistance to passengers. This has been a key driver in improving standards for disabled passengers;
  • Provided support to carers through the availability of the Disabled Persons’ Rail Card and the companion’s bus pass – a concession offered to disabled pass-holders who are unable to travel unassisted – which is available in over half of local authorities.

4. Overview of current rights and future improvements

4.1 The Inclusive Transport Strategy will deliver genuine change for all travellers. In later sections we set out in detail the actions we will be taking, grouped by the main themes appearing from responses to the draft AAP consultation. In this section we summarise the current situation in each of the main modes of transport and provide a summary of the changes that the Strategy will help deliver.

4.2 Annex B to the Strategy includes a detailed table summarising the rights disabled passengers have in each mode of transport, the service they can expect to receive, and how to complain if they do not receive the required level of service.

Rail

4.3 Train and station operators are required via their licence to establish and comply with a Disabled People’s Protection Policy (DPPP) that is approved by the Office for Rail and Road (ORR). A DPPP sets out, amongst other things, the arrangements and assistance that an operator will provide to protect the interests of disabled people using its services and to facilitate such use. Where serious or systemic problems are identified through monitoring complaints and data, ORR intervenes through a staged approach to compliance, ranging from initial discussions via requests to take rectifying action through to formal enforcement via the powers set out in the 1993 Railways Act. The ORR’s annual publication ‘Measuring Up’ sets out in more detail the action it has taken to ensure ongoing compliance with operators’ DPPPs.

4.4 The ORR is currently undertaking a review of the 2009 DPPP guidance and carefully considering the case for targeted changes to deliver improvements in assisted travel, including enhancing the current monitoring regime to ensure train and station operators continue to meet their obligations to passengers that require assistance. The ORR has set up an Assisted Travel Advisory Group, representing disability groups, train and station operators, passenger champions, government and devolved administrations to advise on this work. A consultation on draft revised guidance is planned for September 2018, with the completed guidance to be published by the end of the year. The outcome of that review will determine whether some of the commitments in this Strategy will be required as a licence condition or through the franchise process in the longer term.

4.5 This Strategy will help ensure that rail passengers with accessibility requirements will be confident to travel, able to plan their journey and familiarise themselves with the route in advance. They will be well informed about the support available, including through the Passenger Assist scheme, and able to access it easily. All rail staff will be fully trained in disability awareness and confident to support passengers whatever their needs.

4.6 More rail journeys will be through step-free routes and all passenger trains will be accessible. Where support is pre-booked through Passenger Assist, a reliable service will be provided – and where that does not happen, passengers will receive compensation. We are working with industry and consumer groups to support the establishment of a Rail Ombudsman to investigate unresolved customer complaints and issue decisions that are binding on the industry.

Buses

4.7 Buses designed to carry over twenty two passengers on local and scheduled routes must comply with the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR), and coaches will be required to comply with these Regulations from 2020.

4.8 Responsibility for enforcing compliance with PSVAR rests with the Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA) and the Office of the Traffic Commissioner (OTC).

4.9 Under the Public Service Vehicles (Conduct of Drivers, Inspectors, Conductors and Passengers) Regulations 1990 (the “Conduct Regulations”) drivers of public service vehicles must provide disabled passengers with certain types of assistance. In summary, they must:

  • Deploy a boarding ramp or lift when it is required by a wheelchair user to board or alight the vehicle;
  • Provide wheelchair users with assistance to board or alight the vehicle if they require it;
  • Offer to provide wheelchair users with assistance in using wheelchair user restraint systems on vehicles; and
  • Provide disabled passengers, who do not use wheelchairs, with assistance in boarding and alighting the vehicle if they require it.

4.10 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.

4.11 Disabled passengers also have certain statutory rights under other legislation, including:

  • To be charged the same fare as other passengers (except when covered by a concessionary permit);
  • Not to be refused carriage or to be sold a ticket, unless it is physically impossible to board the passenger or would be contrary to health and safety legislation;
  • For public facing staff, including drivers, to be trained in disability awareness;
  • For damaged mobility aids to be replaced or fixed; and
  • For specified forms of assistance to be provided at bus termini that meet certain criteria, notably Victoria Coach Station in London and Birmingham Coach Station.

4.12 Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) are generally responsible for roadside infrastructure supporting bus services, including bus stations and stops, and passengers should contact the relevant authority if facilities are insufficiently accessible to meet their needs. In undertaking their activities LTAs and other public bodies are subject to the Equality Act 2010 Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and the duty to make reasonable adjustments.

4.13 In England the statutory bus concession provides eligible older and disabled people with free off peak local bus travel. Eligibility for the concession is on the basis of criteria enshrined in legislation. People who think they may meet the criteria should contact their local authority for further information on how to apply. Concessionary travel is a devolved policy area and available concessions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are a matter for the respective devolved administrations.

4.14 Local buses already provide a service which is relied upon by millions of disabled people. The majority of vehicles incorporate a wheelchair space, boarding ramps or lifts, priority seating and other features to make travelling easier for disabled passengers; many drivers already receive disability awareness training; and a growing number of operators are seeing the benefit of providing accessible information on their buses.

4.15 This Strategy will help ensure that the accessibility of buses, staff interactions and the availability of information should all become more consistent. In particular:

  • Disabled people will be able to board a bus with confidence that it will meet their needs, and with confidence that drivers will respond appropriately to their needs, or be willing to assist when required.
  • Almost every bus in Great Britain will have audible and visible next stop and route announcements, meaning that passengers can travel with confidence that they will know when to alight when their stop is reached.
  • We will have a clearer understanding of how accessible bus stops and stations are across the country, and Local Transport Authorities will have the knowledge necessary to ensure that new and upgraded facilities meet the needs of their users.
  • Disabled people will be better able to plan their journeys, as information on the accessibility of bus services becomes more widely available and more accessible, enabling all passengers to make informed journey decisions.
  • Wheelchair users facing problems accessing buses will be able to report issues using a new online tool.

4.16 In the longer term we want all passengers to be able to plan journeys which meet their needs as easily as non-disabled passengers do at present; we want accessibility standards on buses to keep pace with the evolving needs of disabled people and the mobility aids they use; and we want bus stations and stops to meet basic accessibility standards, ensuring that disabled passengers can board and alight where they want to. These steps will take longer to achieve, but they will be necessary for ensuring that bus services continue to meet the needs of those who rely upon them.

Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles

4.17 Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) play an essential role in enabling disabled people to complete door-to-door journeys where other forms of transport may not be available or accessible. Vehicles and drivers are licensed by local licensing authorities (LLAs) which have broad powers to shape the service provided within their jurisdiction.

4.18 Disabled passengers travelling by taxi or PHV have a number of rights, including:

  • Section 20 of the Equality Act 2010, which requires service providers to make reasonable adjustments to enable them to access their services;
  • Section 165 of the Equality Act 2010, which requires non-exempt drivers of taxis and PHVs designated as wheelchair accessible to accept the carriage of wheelchair users, to provide them with appropriate assistance, and to refrain from charging them more than other passengers would pay for the same service; and
  • Sections 168 and 170 of the Equality Act 2010, which requires non-exempt drivers of taxis and PHVs to accept the carriage of assistance dogs and to refrain from charging extra for them.

4.19 Around 58% of vehicles are already wheelchair accessible, but these tend to be concentrated in urban locations and taxi fleets. The proportion of wheelchair accessible PHVs remains very low, at about 2% nationally.

4.20 This Strategy should help ensure that authorities not only use the powers available to them to ensure that taxi and PHV services not only comply with the legal requirements but that these services meet the needs of passengers more consistently.

4.21 In the longer term we want the service currently provided by taxis and PHVs to be as accessible to disabled passengers as it is for those who are not disabled. This should mean not only that vehicles are sufficiently accessible to provide for people with a range of access needs, but that the means of hiring them is accessible, that passengers can be picked up or dropped off at a location convenient to them, and that no disabled person is ever left at the kerbside or charged extra for their journey. We also want LLAs to understand their role in helping this to happen, both through the licensing system and through other areas of influence, such as traffic management.

Personal mobility

Blue Badge scheme

4.22 If you are driving and you have a medical condition or disability, you must inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Further information is available via the DVLA website. The Blue Badge scheme, administered by local councils, exists to help those that have mobility problems park closer to their destination. Blue Badges can be applied for online via gov.uk webpage or contact your local council directly.

The Motability Scheme

4.23 The Motability Scheme can help those in receipt of a qualifying benefit with leasing a car, powered wheelchair or scooter. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is responsible for the disability benefits that provide a passport to The Motability Scheme. While DWP works closely with Motability, it is an independent charitable organisation that is wholly responsible for the terms and the administration of the Scheme itself.

4.24 This Strategy will help ensure that when driving, or as a passenger in a car, a disabled person will be able to expect suitable toilets and changing facilities at most motorway service areas and along many long distance journeys. If using their own or a carer’s car, they will be able to park more easily. If using a travel service, autonomous vehicle or vehicle share scheme, they will have access to a vehicle suitable to their needs.

4.25 If travelling to a hospital, a disabled person should have a route from their home to the hospital that is accessible without the need for a car.

Pedestrian environment

4.26 Local authorities are responsible for the design of their streets. It is for them to ensure any pedestrian environment scheme, including a shared space, is inclusive and that they meet the requirements of the Equality Act 2010.

4.27 We will consider ways to help them understand their duties, and ensure they have the skills needed to deliver inclusive pedestrian environments. We will also make clear to authorities that proper engagement with all road users, at an early stage of scheme development, must be carried out to enable concerns to be raised and acted on effectively.

4.28 This Strategy should help ensure that disabled people are able to move around freely through the pedestrian environment, and use it to access other modes of transport. If using a cycle, whether as a mobility aid or not, they will be able to use inclusive cycle infrastructure to support their journey.

Maritime

4.29 Maritime passenger rights entitle passengers to a percentage cost reimbursement where they are delayed, subject to conditions and exceptions. Disabled passengers and passengers with reduced mobility are entitled to:

  • Acceptance for carriage unless safety reasons justify refusal;
  • Free assistance in ports to embark, disembark and on board vessels but not caring functions;
  • Assistance from staff who have been trained to understand the needs of disabled people;
  • Assistance dogs will be carried subject to national pet regulations;
  • Medical and mobility equipment will be allowed on board that is reasonable for the voyage.
  • Ports and vessels must be fully accessible but there is no retrofitting requirement so it will take time for all facilities to be compliant.

4.30 This Strategy will help ensure that disabled and reduced mobility passengers will receive a level of service that enables them to travel safely to the maximum number of destinations possible. The Department will highlight examples of good practice in the sector.

Aviation

4.31 Everyone deserves the right to travel with comfort and dignity, which is why we are looking at measures to improve accessibility at airports and on aircraft. Disabled passengers already have statutory rights when travelling by air. But we recognise that more can still be done to give disabled people the confidence to travel by air.

4.32 Aviation passenger rights provide that assistance suitable to the passenger’s needs must be provided without any cost to the passenger at the airport as well as on board the aircraft. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Assistance at check-in and with baggage;
  • Help storing and retrieving baggage;
  • Support throughout the immigration, customs and security procedures;
  • Moving to the toilet facilities if required;
  • Transport of up to two pieces of mobility equipment in addition to medical equipment.

4.33 The legislation also requires that a designated complaints body is in place to deal with any alleged infringement of the Regulation.

4.34 As part of our Aviation Strategy, we will be working to understand more about the barriers that currently exist for passengers with reduced mobility and disabilities and working with the industry to remove these obstacles. We will work closely with industry to make improvements and will consult on all possible measures before publishing our final Aviation Strategy in mid-2019. This will build on the important work of the Civil Aviation Authority, which has stepped up its compliance activity and efforts to highlight which airports are offering exemplary assistance to passengers and which airports are falling below standards.

5. Awareness and enforcement of passenger rights

We would like stronger signposting to where older and disabled people can take complaints and suggestions. We have received feedback that some older people don’t bother to make complaints because they think it’s a waste of time and they will not receive a response from the operator.

Age UK

The general sense is that the various complaint mechanisms across different modes are passive – in that they are ready to receive complaints if people bring their complaints – rather that proactive. This assumes that consumers have a level of understanding of their rights…and a level of awareness of, and confidence in, complaint systems that we believe does not exist.

DPTAC

5.1 Providing timely and high quality assistance services to disabled travellers, including those with less visible disabilities, is vital to ensure disabled people can travel with confidence. The draft AAP consultation revealed that many disabled passengers were unaware of their rights to assistance and what steps they could take to enforce those rights, should they receive a poor service from transport providers. It was also revealed that the consistency of enforcement procedures across the different modes of transport could be improved.

5.2 The rights of disabled passengers across all modes of transport, as well as the related complaints procedures, are set out in chapter 4 (and Annex B). We consider it essential that the lack of knowledge of passenger rights is addressed and commit to taking clear steps through this Strategy to raise awareness. We will also strengthen enforcement mechanisms so that disabled people can have confidence that action will be taken on non-compliance.

5.3 The legislative framework governing passenger rights is set out in Part 12 of the Equality Act 2010, which covers taxis, buses and coaches, and trains. In addition, the Equality Act also places a duty on providers to make reasonable adjustments in order to avoid a disabled person being placed at a ‘substantial disadvantage’ when accessing services and facilities. The determination of ‘reasonable adjustment’ is made by transport providers and operators but such decisions are challengeable in the Courts. In addition, disabled passengers also have specific rights under various other European Union (EU) and UK regulations.

5.4 Whilst the legal obligations placed upon operators vary across the different modes of transport, there is a clear role for Government in actively monitoring and ensuring compliance with legislation. We will publish data received from regulators or relevant authorities on the number of complaints received from disabled people with respect to their journeys. By 2020, we will take steps to ensure that passengers have clear avenues to pursue claims of poor service and that regulators consistently enforce the law.

Case study: Securing passenger improvements through regulatory enforcement

Through its accessibility performance framework for airports, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) identified substantive issues with the quality of the assistance service provided at Heathrow Airport. In the CAA’s 2016/17 airport accessibility report (PDF, 375KB) Heathrow was rated as ‘poor’. Disabled passengers and persons with reduced mobility (PRMs) had been subjected to regular breaks in the assistance service, resulting in people being left in ‘holding areas’, meaning that it was taking significantly longer for those requiring assistance to exit the airport than other passengers.

The CAA has civil powers under the Access to Air Travel Regulations (PDF, 82KB). Under these powers, the CAA secured Heathrow Airport’s commitment that it would develop and implement a performance improvement plan to ensure that it is able to provide a consistent and high quality assistance service.

The performance improvement plan included commitments to eradicate breaks in the service and improve the speed at which passengers using the assistance service were moved through the airport, to set up a comprehensive disability awareness programme, to improve oversight by Heathrow management of its contractor, Omniserv, and to consult with organisations and groups representing disabled people.

The CAA is pleased with Heathrow Airport’s progress in taking forward the commitments made in its improvement plan. The airport has removed all ‘holding areas’ for passengers using the assistance service and waiting times have been greatly reduced. Staff training has been enhanced and accredited by Disability Rights UK and the airport has set up the Heathrow Access Advisory Group, which provides regular and effective advice to Heathrow on accessibility issues at the airport. In addition, customer satisfaction scores at the airport have improved significantly. Heathrow have now received a ‘good’ rating in this year’s CAA report (PDF, 177KB).

Case Study: Blackpool Transport and customer complaints

Historically, Blackpool Transport (BTS) placed very little emphasis on customer needs and experience within their operations. Complaints were not used as an opportunity to learn from mistakes and improve, and consequently
inclusivity was merely touched upon when considered.

Since then, BTS has drastically changed its approach from being task centred to now being customer centred. One of the ways they believe they have improved is through their Customer Experience Strategy, a component of their five-year business plan. The Strategy planned to use customer feedback to improve many aspects of the business, from cleanliness of vehicles to the format of signage. BTS established ‘customer hubs’ (local community gathering points staffed by BTS staff) as a way to approach customers, through these interactions it gathered complaints and feedback on its services and explored with passengers ways to remediate areas of concerns.

Following the introduction of these changes, BTS has seen an increase in customer satisfaction in its services and its business model has also been adopted across the bus industry.

Actions to deliver our objectives

Awareness of passenger rights

5.5 To improve awareness of passenger rights, we will:

  • In 2019, launch a public awareness campaign, working with a wide range of partners, including DPTAC, to promote ways of positively interacting with disabled people in order to ensure a supportive travelling experience and reduce instances of disability related hate crime on transport;
  • Continue to work with passenger and industry representative bodies and support the work of regulators to encourage greater promotion of information about the rights of disabled travellers and what they are entitled to expect in terms of service and facilities, as well as developing easier ways to register complaints when things go wrong.

Buses:

  • By spring 2019, release the first iteration of an online tool to assist disabled people in reporting issues they encounter when travelling by bus. This will initially focus on passengers who use ramps and lifts when boarding buses, but may be capable of being extended to cover other categories of access issue or transport mode, depending upon the impact of this pilot project. Enforcement action will be taken by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and, where appropriate, the Office for the Traffic Commissioner against non-compliant bus operators.

Enforcement

5.6 To ensure passengers’ rights are better enforced and regulated, we will:

Rail:

  • By the end of 2018, support the establishment of a Rail Ombudsman to investigate and rule on unresolved customer complaints (including on the provision of assistance and access to advertised accessibility facilities), with the power to issue decisions that are binding on the industry;
  • By the end of 2018, use the tendering process for new rail franchises to require a minimum target for the successful completion of booked assistance through the Passenger Assist scheme, to incentivise the provision of a more reliable service. We will ensure that train operators who fail to deliver the assistance booked will provide financial compensation to passengers;
  • From 2019, introduce new accessibility requirements mandating all train operators running new franchises to write to the Secretary of State for Transport (copied to the Transport Accessibility Minister) on an annual basis outlining all activity that has been conducted to improve accessibility for rail passengers, including what they have done beyond the obligations in their franchise agreements and setting out steps they will take to increase any poor performance in their provision of the Passenger Assist scheme. The Department will publish these letters to ensure transparency and to share best practice;
  • By end of 2019, work with the ORR as it reviews the current Disabled People’s Protection Policy guidance and considers how the requirements it contains are to be monitored.

Buses:

  • By spring 2019, develop a monitoring and enforcement framework for mandatory bus driver disability awareness training, which will include identifying a body to ensure compliance by bus operators with legal requirements;
  • Support the DVSA in its activities to incentivise prompt compliance by bus operators with the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) and to take decisive action where this does not happen. We will report regularly on DVSA’s enforcement activities;
  • By the end of 2018, after further engagement with affected stakeholders, announce the specific actions we intend to take to secure access to the wheelchair space for those who need it. This follows the Supreme Court’s 2017 ruling in the case of First Group PLC vs Paulley, requiring bus drivers to do more than simply request passengers vacate the wheelchair space when it is required by a wheelchair user. An expert stakeholder group was established following the judgement, and advised Ministers that a combined approach, amending legislation and guidance, and seeking to influence passenger behaviour, should be used to secure access to the space for those who need it.

Taxis/PHVs:

  • By end of 2019, publish for consultation revised best practice guidance to support local licensing authorities (LLAs) to use their existing powers more effectively. In particular we will recommend that authorities require taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers to complete disability awareness and equality training, make it simple to report discrimination and take robust action against drivers alleged to have discriminated against disabled passengers. Consulting on best practice guidance for taxi and PHV licensing, authorities will provide an opportunity to further the discussion with the Local Government Association and other representative organisations around potential approaches for ensuring that licensing authorities use the powers available to them, and take robust action against drivers who have discriminated illegally against disabled passengers;
  • Take steps to understand why taxi and PHV drivers continue to refuse to transport assistance dogs. For over a decade it has been illegal for drivers of taxis and PHVs to refuse the carriage of an assistance dog. Even where enforcement of this requirement is rigorous, such as in London, we understand anecdotally that refusal incidents continue to happen. We will undertake research to identify why the risk of fines and the loss of a driver’s licence appear insufficient in some circumstances to prevent them from discriminating against assistance dog owners. We will use evidence from this work to support any further action that we may take in this area to ensure that assistance dog owners are able to travel by taxi and PHV free from the fear of discrimination.

Maritime:

  • From Autumn 2018, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will undertake a dedicated survey of disabled passengers using ferries and cruise ships in order to effectively measure the services provided;
  • By the end of 2019, we will review the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s enforcement of regulation, particularly around staff training (which was a concern raised through the Accessibility Action Plan consultation) and work with them to strengthen procedures where areas for improvement are identified.

Aviation:

  • By 2019, review the powers the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has to enforce regulations and strengthen them if evidence suggests this is required;
  • Work with the CAA to review performance standards for airports and airlines, such as the length of time taken for a passenger to receive assistance boarding and leaving aircraft. By 2020, we intend to put in place a robust framework for measuring airlines’ provision of assistance services, and to have strengthened the current performance standards for airports;
  • By 2019, consider how passenger assistance could be improved by providing assistance via a single member of staff throughout the journey (airside and landside).

6. Staff training

Staff training should involve talking directly to disabled people themselves so that staff gain a better understanding and empathy for the day-to-day problems they encounter on the transport system”.

Age UK

Our members have reported issues with how transport staff handle disabled passengers. Transport users with [less visible] disabilities often find their usage of disabled seats questioned and the level of understanding varies amongst staff which is why compulsory training is necessary.

UNISON

Often when disabled people’s needs are not met when using public transport, it’s the process of customer service that’s at fault rather than a funding issue.

All Party Parliamentary Group for Young Disabled People

6.1 For disabled people, the service and assistance provided by transport staff is vital to their travelling experience. Negative experiences can leave people lacking the confidence to use the transport system which can in turn have a profound impact on their quality of life. It can lead to feelings of social isolation which can have an impact on other physical and mental health conditions.

6.2 Providing effective training to transport staff is one of the best ways to improve the travelling experience of disabled passengers. Positive interactions with staff can help build the confidence of disabled people to travel. Not only is good staff training important for raising awareness of the needs of disabled people, it is also essential as a way to ensure transport staff are aware of their own legal obligations.

Responses to the Accessibility Action Plan consultation

6.3 During the draft Accessibility Action Plan consultation in 2017, we received a number of responses highlighting the importance of the assistance and support provided by transport staff. We also met frontline transport staff who made us aware of the difference made to their organisation’s training programme when senior managers also undertook disability equality awareness training or met with disabled people. Draft AAP consultation respondents highlighted that greater senior level disability awareness helped to ensure that budgets, training and resources were directed into the areas and services which helped provide the greatest improvements to the experience of disabled or older passengers.

Case Study: Brighton and Hove buses and metrobus

‘My Guide’, developed by Guide Dogs, has been specially adapted for bus travel in partnership with Brighton and Hove Buses and Metrobus. This practical training equips bus staff with the knowledge, skills and confidence to safely guide people with sight loss.

Victoria Garcia, Accessibility Officer for Brighton and Hove Buses and Metrobus explained “Drivers are blindfolded and then asked to try and board the bus. Using this approach increases empathy and understanding and we’ve had some amazing feedback from colleagues who have completed the course.”

Martin Harris, Managing Director, added that “This type of training is essential as it increases staff’s awareness which helps all our customers and not just those with sight loss. I can attest to the value of this training having personally undertaken it.”

Feedback from Brighton and Hove Bus drivers included comments such as:

I had no idea how scary it was not being able to see.

This was the best training I’ve ever had. Every driver in the UK should do this course

Inclusive Transport Accreditation Scheme

6.4 The Government wants transport operators to provide all staff (frontline and back-office, including senior managers) with training on disability equality and awareness as well as an understanding of the range of conditions and impairments affecting disabled people, and to involve disabled people in the provision of that training. We also want to see providers highlight to staff the importance of good customer service to enabling disabled passengers to travel confidently.

6.5 In 2019, we will develop and launch an Inclusive Transport Accreditation Scheme to allow the best transport operators to receive formal recognition for the positive actions they are taking to improve disabled passengers’ experiences of using the transport system, and to encourage others to follow suit.

6.6 In order to qualify for one of our multiple accreditation statuses, companies will need to satisfy the Department that they have displayed a number of desired characteristics, such as:

  • Committed to train all staff, from back office to front line, on the equality and disability awareness package we are developing;
  • Made clear public pledges on what steps they will take to improve their service for disabled people;
  • Offered assistance cards, where appropriate, to disabled passengers; and
  • Ensured that their staff are able to respond appropriately when assistance cards are presented by disabled people;
  • Become a Disability Confident employer.

6.7 The Department has already had considerable interest in the scheme from companies including London Stansted Airport, Southeastern and the British Ports Association, and is confident that this scheme will help raise standards across the sector.

Actions to deliver our objectives:

6.8 In order to improve the service provided to disabled people, by 2020 we will:

  • Lead the way, by providing disability equality and awareness training for Department for Transport staff as part of our staff development programmes;
  • Raise awareness amongst DfT staff on how the Public Sector Equality Duty, and the needs of people with protected characteristics, should be considered as part of transport policy development and delivery. This will include through staff training, the creation of an Equality Leaders Scheme to drive change across the Department, and steps to ensure equality considerations are made explicit to decision makers such as Senior Civil Servants and Ministers.
  • Develop a disability equality and awareness training package that can be made available across modes to all transport operators;
  • Develop an accreditation scheme to incentivise operators to use the disability equality and awareness training package, publicly sign up to commitments to improve inclusivity, and to become Disability Confident employers;
  • Recommend, or where appropriate require, that transport operators and regulators involve disabled people or representative organisations wherever possible in the training received by staff (i.e. transport operators should ensure that the course content is informed by the lived experience of disabled people, relevant to the transport mode concerned).

Rail:

  • By the end of 2018, include a section focused entirely on accessibility in franchise competitions which will require bidders to commit to providing enhanced disability awareness training for staff covering a range of impairments, including less visible disabilities. Bidders must commit to involving disabled people in the design and delivery of that training, as part of the franchise tendering process;
  • Through future rail franchises, require that train operating companies should have at least one person responsible for accessibility at board level and one person at an operational level to ensure inclusive transport is embedded into the service provided.

Buses:

  • During 2019, publish best practice guidance for delivering training across the bus sector. This guidance will assist operators in complying with the new mandatory disability equality and awareness training requirement which came into force across the sector in March 2018.

Taxi/PHV:

  • Do everything in our power to ensure that local licensing authorities make full use of their existing powers, including recommending that driver disability equality and awareness training be mandated in licensing policies.

Aviation:

  • Build on the work CAA has already undertaken with the aviation industry, poor performing airports, in particular, to understand the reasons why the services and assistance received by passengers using aviation are inconsistent and seek to achieve greater consistency in training between airport and airline staff (including ground staff) by 2020.

7. Improving information and awareness

More needs to be done to make it [transport] more inclusive for a wider range of disabled passengers, with better information made available to people who are not able to see graphical information

Guide Dogs UK

7.1 The draft Accessibility Action Plan consultation received a number of responses highlighting the fact that clear, timely and accessible information both before and during the journey which was tailored to the needs of disabled people played an important role in giving people the confidence to travel. Consultation responses particularly focussed on the need for more accessible journey planning information as well as real-time information on the availability of assistance and services (such as toilet facilities) as being fundamental to reducing levels of anxiety and increasing confidence to travel. It was clear that a lack of information on what assistance or level of service a disabled person could expect, could put an individual off travelling at all.

7.2 We want disabled people to have equal access to transport information and we recognise that this will mean that DfT, transport operators and regulators will need to produce information in formats which are accessible for all. Transport for London (TfL) have already noted this as a priority for London’s transport, and they are working closely with developers to expand the accessible information they provide through, for example, partnership with app developers and increasing the number of buses with hearing loops.

Creating an inclusive travelling experience

7.3 The draft AAP consultation also highlighted the fact that increasing the confidence of disabled people to travel was not solely about improving the information provided by operators about services or assistance. Improving the travelling environment for disabled people, including at times, the attitude and behaviour of other passengers, will enable disabled people to feel confident taking journeys.

Case Study: South Yorkshire and the 120 bus

I love the talking buses on the 120 route in Sheffield. It makes things so much easier. If this was on all buses I would be able to travel a lot more independently, maybe even at night when it’s dark

A visually impaired user of the 120 bus.

Audio Visual (AV) equipment on buses can dramatically improve the journey experience of many passengers, and for others it can be the single improvement that gives them the confidence to travel. Audible and visible information can help a range of disabled passengers to feel sufficiently confident to use buses, enabling them to access employment, education and other services, regardless of the time of day or their familiarity with the route on which they are travelling. It may be of particular benefit to people who are blind or partially sighted, or anyone who might otherwise avoid travelling at night because of the risk of alighting the bus in the wrong location.

In 2017, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) partnered with their area’s two local bus operators (First and Stagecoach) to retrofit AV equipment in 37 buses along the 120 route. This installation project was funded through DfT’s BSOG Reform Better Bus Area Grant, to which SYPTE had submitted a successful bid. The scheme promotes the provision of audible and visible information on-board buses ahead of the forthcoming Accessible Information Requirement (AIR) (where AV equipment will be mandatory for the majority of operators), which will soon be consulted on.

Whilst the operators had concerns about how customers would react to the new ‘talking buses’, these were quickly allayed following an ‘after implementation’ survey showing a clear increase in customer satisfaction when boarding and alighting following the installation of AV.

7.4 The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published a report on disability hate crime and harassment which outlined the kinds of negative experiences disabled people can have whilst using transport (PDF, 4,080KB). These ranged from being stared at, laughed at or called names, to having other passengers show impatience or harass them for being too slow or taking up space with aids such as assistance dogs, sticks, frames and wheelchairs.

7.5 In 2017, the British Transport Police (BTP) received 3083 reports of hate crime, 71 of which were disability related. This compares to 1490 reports of hate crime reported in 2010, with 17 of those being disability related. Whilst these numbers are relatively low we know that hate crime is under-reported and the impact of these incidences on people’s confidence to travel can be dramatic.

7.6 Aggression or bullying of any kind on the transport system is unacceptable, especially given that, for many people, these services are essential for them to stay socially connected and live independent lives.

7.7 In 2016, the Home Office published a four year, cross-Government Action Plan for tackling hate crime. This included commitments to:

  • Publicise the use of the BTP text message reporting facility; Modernise the systems provided to enable passengers to report hate crime more easily (e.g. providing text message facilities i.e. 61016, phoning 101 or, if it is an emergency phoning 999);
  • Support community advertising campaigns to raise awareness of hate crime;
  • Ensure local transport providers are fully equipped with training to challenge hate crime on their services.

7.8 The National Police Chiefs’ Council has also established a website, ‘True Vision’, to inform the public about what hate crime is, how to report it (it can be reported directly on the website) and about the route for prosecution.

7.9 The BTP also runs monthly national days of activity and engagement with communities affected by hate crime, including disabled people. These days involve the deployment of BTP officers throughout the day to raise awareness of hate crime and highlight its commitment to tackling it.

7.10 In addition, the BTP also takes the training it provides to its officers responsible for investigating disability related hate crime seriously and actively encourages officers to engage with stakeholders such as the National Autistic Society, the Royal National Institute of Blind people and Scope to help officers understand the impact of, and how to deal with, reports of hate crime.

7.11 We will continue to work with the Home Office, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the BTP to progress and publicise the work being undertaken through the Hate Crime Action Plan, but we also see greater passenger awareness of disabled people as being essential to improving behaviour on our transport system. We will therefore launch a £2m passenger awareness campaign in 2019 to increase disability awareness and reduce hate crime on our network.

Action to deliver our objectives

7.12 In order to ensure better information is made available to disabled people about the assistance and financial support available when using different forms of transport, we will:

  • As part of our 2019/20 public awareness campaign, increase awareness and take up of the Disabled Persons Rail Card, Passenger Assist and Concessionary Bus Passes;
  • Encourage the greater use of assistance cards, including through our new accreditation scheme for transport providers who are leading the way on disability issues. We will work with transport operators to share existing good practice with a view to ensuring that by 2020 the majority of them offer national assistance cards to those disabled passengers who wish to take them up.

Rail:

  • From summer 2018, work with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and DPTAC to review the eligibility criteria for the Disabled Persons Rail Card. We expect this review to be completed by the end of 2019;
  • From the end of 2018, require through future rail franchises that train operating companies promote greater passenger awareness of the Passenger Assist service. We will also support the RDG’s awareness-raising campaign which will be run online and at in-station events;
  • Support RDG to introduce the new Passenger Assistance application which has been designed to enable customers to book assistance through a single click, and to explore how this can also enable customers arriving at stations to request assistance. A trial of this will be evaluated by autumn 2018;
  • Support the work being led by RDG to produce a digital map by August 2018 which shows accessibility information for all stations on the rail network, available online and to download for customers to take with them on their journey
  • Support the RDG’s work to explore how real-time information on the availability of access facilities such as step-free access, accessible toilets and Changing Places facilities can be provided to passengers. Initial scoping work will be completed by Spring 2019;
  • Support the RDG to develop an online model of stations which will enable passengers to familiarise themselves with the layout and environment before they travel;
  • By the end of 2018, ensure that disabled people travelling on the majority of the rail network will have the choice of travelling on a smart ticket (i.e. paperless ticket) that can be bought online without having to queue at ticket machines or ticket barriers. Being able to buy at home will help those who might find it difficult to use a ticket machine or ticket office to buy or collect their ticket;
  • Explore with RDG the ability for train operators to provide ‘alternative journey options’ if the journey becomes unsuitable – for example, if the only accessible toilet on a train goes out of use unexpectedly.

Buses:

  • By the end of 2018 consult on draft Accessible Information Regulations to require audible and visible next stop announcements to be provided on local bus services across Great Britain;
  • Provide further support to the rollout of audible and visual announcements across the sector through the launch of a new £2m fund for bus operators. Further details will be announced in due course;
  • By 2020, work with the bus industry, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, and passenger representatives to encourage improved promotion of information about the rights of disabled travellers and what they are entitled to expect in terms of service and facilities, as well as developing easier ways to register complaints when things go wrong.

Aviation:

  • By 2019, work with industry to improve the information and advice available to disabled adults and children travelling by air. This will include enhancing the distribution of free information about flying as a disabled person, raising awareness of the special assistance service and ensuring disabled people are aware of opportunities for air cabin assessments which will enable more informed choices about flying;
  • Consider the information needs of consumers to ensure the right information is available in the right format, at the right time. This could include enhanced signage at airports providing more detail on access routes and how long particular routes will take so that disabled passengers can make an informed choice on whether the route is suitable for them.

Hate crime

7.13 In order to improve disabled people’s confidence and reduce anxiety in using the transport system (as well as reduce incidences of hate crime) we will:

  • As part of our 2019/20 public awareness raising campaign, increase disability awareness amongst all transport passengers, highlight that hate crime is a criminal offence and promote how incidences of hate crime can be reported.

8. Improving physical infrastructure

In transport, where infrastructure lasts 100 years and vehicles 20 or more, producing something which excludes disabled people has a lasting negative impact.

DPTAC

The actual design of streets is another issue… many people with sight loss cannot walk to places when they want to, or how they want to.

Royal National Institute of Blind People

8.1 We have seen significant improvements in our infrastructure and vehicle fleet over the past 20 years. For example 98% of buses in England are compliant with accessibility requirements for public service and 78% of the mainline rail fleet is currently compliant with modern accessibility standards. In addition, 58% of taxis and PHVs are wheelchair accessible. Whilst we are proud of these achievements we recognise that there are regional differences which mean that disabled people living in areas of high connectivity (such as urban areas) are more likely to have good access to a range of accessible transport compared to those living in rural or less well served areas of the country. The draft AAP consultation received a number of responses highlighting that access to transport to take people to hospital (e.g. local buses, National Health Service directly provided services or taxis and PHVs) was an issue of concern to disabled and older people. Consultation responses highlighted the desire of older people to be able to travel to hospital appointments within a reasonable time and in an affordable way.

8.2 We recognise the importance of disabled and older people being able to access transport to take them to hospital. It is clear however that this issue requires a co-ordinated, cross-Departmental and cross-agency approach. DfT will continue to work closely with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), including through the newly established Inter-Ministerial Group on Disabled People and Society, as well as local authorities to identify solutions to address the problems which have been identified.

8.3 Delivering more inclusive infrastructure across the country is fundamental to achieving our ambition for greater access to transport services and increased confidence amongst disabled travellers, and will be a major priority for us as we deliver the Strategy. Our aspiration is that by 2030 all major transport hubs and terminals on both public and private transport networks will meet the needs of disabled people, including toilet and changing facilities, straightforward signage, audio and visual messaging and space to navigate. We also expect transport operators and local authorities to publish plans setting out how they will support and increase the numbers of disabled people travelling across all modes of transport. The Minister for Accessibility has recently written to all major transport operators asking them to provide this information to the Department, and we will publish responses shortly.

8.4 We recognise, however, that the journey taken to transport hubs is just as important as the accessibility of the actual vehicle boarded. Responses to the draft AAP consultation highlighted the fact that no matter how well designed the bus or train, if the bus stop or train station is difficult to navigate to or does not have the accessible information or facilities required, disabled people will have significant challenges using the service. This was most clearly highlighted by visually impaired people and organisations representing this group with respect to “shared space” schemes and the wider design of the pedestrian environment, and by the consultation responses calling for more provision of Changing Places facilities at motorway service areas.

Inclusive design of transport infrastructure

8.5 Our success in creating an inclusive transport system will be dependent on the engagement of the people who design and deliver transport infrastructure and streetscapes (i.e. transport engineers, planners and designers).

8.6 In recent years there have been a number of positive examples of inclusive design at both busy rail stations such as Birmingham New Street or London Bridge, and smaller stations such as Gleneagles and Penrith.

8.7 We remain committed to improving rail accessibility and inclusive design. This means that whenever the rail industry installs, replaces or renews station infrastructure this needs to meet current accessibility standards. We will encourage the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) to take enforcement action wherever this does not happen.

8.8 We also remain committed to our Access for All programme which provides accessible routes at stations not due to benefit from other projects. Since it was launched in 2006, it has provided accessible, step-free routes at over 200 stations and a variety of smaller scale improvements at more than 1500 stations.

Figure 1 Government funding for Access for All

Access for All ProgrammeFunding
Main Programme 2006-2015£378m
Main Programme 2015-2020£110m
Main Programme 2019-2024 (Includes £50m deferred from 2015-2019)£300m
Mid-Tier Programme 2012-2014£37.5m
Small Schemes 2006-2016 (£5m-£7.5m was made available yearly between 2006-2016)£47.5m

Figure 2 Improvements to stations made under the Access for All programme

202stations provided with Step Free Access
75%of Rail journeys are not made through Step Free stations, compared to only 50% in 2005
137new or refurbished accessible toilets
1500stations have received funding to make smaller scale improvements including:
342 induction hearing loops
65 stations with improved blue badge parking
158 customer information systems

Shared Space

8.9 “Shared space” schemes, where features such as kerbs, road surface markings, designated crossing places and traffic signs are removed, have been introduced in many town centres in recent years. There are mixed views, however, on their impacts, and many respondents to the draft AAP consultation raised significant concerns about them. Groups representing visually impaired people expressed concern that ‘shared space’ schemes were dangerous and difficult to navigate.

8.10 We recognise that the issues around shared space are important to disabled people and note that many of those responding to the draft AAP consultation called for a ‘moratorium’ on shared space schemes, and for the withdrawal of the Department’s Local Transport Note 1/11: Shared Space. The Women and Equalities Select Committee report into Disability and the Built Environment, published on 25 April 2017, made similar recommendations. The Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation carried out a review of shared space, which was published on 9 January 2018. This made a range of recommendations, which we are currently considering. DPTAC have provided their own assessment of the CIHT review, which we will also take into account as we develop our response.

8.11 While we consider CIHT and DPTAC’s recommendations and how to take them forward, we are requesting that local authorities pause any shared space schemes incorporating a level surface they are considering, and which are at the design stage. We are also temporarily suspending Local Transport Note 1/11. This pause will allow us to carry out research and produce updated guidance.

Engagement with transport design professionals

8.12 The CIHT review concluded that there is a lack of skills in the engineering sector in relation to designing accessible environments, and a lack of understanding of the requirements of the Equality Act 2010. It recommended that “Education and continuing professional development of those developing works in the public realm should specifically include the requirements around creating inclusive environments and accessibility. Professional institutions across the sector should take a lead in developing this approach.”

8.13 The Department’s guidance on street design includes advice on accessibility, but we recognise there is a need to go further to ensure guidance is up-to-date and relevant, and that practitioners have the skills to use it effectively. Local authorities are responsible for the design of the streets in their care, and for ensuring that any scheme they put forward, shared space or otherwise, is designed in a way that is accessible and meets the Public Sector Equality Duty.

8.14 We want transport professionals to deliver inclusive infrastructure which meets the Public Sector Equality Duty and involves active engagement with groups representing the interests of older and disabled people. We will work with the institutions representing engineering and design professionals to achieve this, including running workshops aimed at transport professionals to educate them on their obligations under the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Inclusive Mobility and the public realm

8.15 While the issues around shared space are important, this design approach forms a relatively small part of the pedestrian environment. Streets and roads make up around three quarters of all public space. Their appearance, and the way in which they function, therefore have a significant impact on people’s lives. We want to see well maintained pavements, appropriately placed dropped kerbs and navigable and legible routes in our public realm. We also note the responses to the draft AAP consultation seeking greater clarification on the status of mobility scooters being driven on pavements.

8.16 ‘Inclusive Mobility’ and ‘Tactile Paving’ are key pieces of design guidance for the pedestrian environment. Draft AAP consultation respondents supported our proposal to undertake research to ensure that the guidance reflects modern standards. We are currently reviewing existing guidance and, by autumn 2018, will publish conclusions with the view to expanding or updating the Inclusive Mobility and Tactile Paving guidance and exploring whether the two sets of documents should be combined. This work will also consider the issues highlighted through the draft AAP consultation on mobility scooters.

Inclusive design and electric vehicles

8.17 We also note the concerns raised by disabled people about the location and access to charging points for electric vehicles as well as the difference in noise levels between electric vehicles and gasoline combustion engines. We want chargepoints to be easy to locate and access for all transport users. Existing legislation means that the provision of chargepoints is covered by the Equality Act 2010. This includes a reasonable adjustments duty that applies to, amongst others, a person or organisation providing services, goods or facilities to the public.

8.18 We also recognise the importance of vehicle noise to alert pedestrians and other road users to a vehicle’s presence. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has adopted a technical requirement for electric vehicles to have a noise generator fitted, ensuring pedestrian safety. Standards will be directly applicable to vehicles entering the UK market from 1 July 2019 and ensure electric vehicles are safe for road users while still reducing noise pollution.

Mobility scooters and insurance

8.19 We also note the broader points raised through the draft AAP consultation on mobility scooters. As part of the consultation, a small number of respondents referred to mobility scooter training courses (to help avoid collisions) and mobility scooter insurance as being areas for the Department to consider further.

8.20 At the moment, there are no plans to introduce mandatory training for people who use mobility scooters. The Department has published guidance for people who use mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs and we strongly advise people to have training to ensure they can steer and control the vehicle properly.

8.21 Users of mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs are not required to take out compulsory third-party insurance cover (though we recommend that they do). Before any decision is made on any possible change to this, we will engage with disabled people and disability groups in the UK to ensure their needs have been considered.

Inclusive transport and the private motorist

8.22 The private car is a vitally important form of transport for disabled people. The preliminary findings of research undertaken by Transport Focus on the experiences of disabled drivers and passengers using the Strategic Road Network highlighted that most disabled people see their car as a physical extension of themselves and an enabler of a level of freedom and independence not yet offered by other forms of transport.

8.23 The research also showed that, when driving, disabled people felt temporarily ‘non-disabled’ i.e. that societal barriers had been removed and that they had what they needed to travel where they wanted. This is our aspiration for all modes of transport and the overall objective for the Inclusive Transport Strategy.

8.24 The ability to drive, and the private car as a form of transport, are vital for the independence of disabled people, as are the services provided for them on the Strategic Road Network (SRN). Transport Focus’ research showed that the SRN was particularly important to disabled people due to the importance of rest breaks to avoid fatigue and the need, of some, to access toilet facilities on a regular basis. The lack of facilities or the location of facilities within a motorway service area (MSA) for example, accessible toilets located far from the front doors, can cause disabled people stress and anxiety.

8.25 As part of the draft AAP consultation we received representations from disabled people on the need for more Changing Places facilities to be installed at MSAs. We recognise the importance of being able to drive long distances and access facilities on our motorways and want to see a step change in the numbers of Changing Places facilities at MSAs.

8.26 The Government welcomes the investments already made by operators to install Changing Places facilities in a number of their existing service stations. There are currently 15 MSAs with Changing Places facilities in England, with over ten further units being bought forward as part of the MSA operators’ investment and renewal plans. But we want to go further and so we will provide £2m funding to install more Changing Place facilities in motorway service areas in England, focussing on those areas which do not currently do not have them or have not yet committed to do so as part of their future investment plans. This should deliver a rapid step-change in the availability of these facilities across the motorway network, allowing the majority of motorway service areas to have them in place by the early 2020s.

8.27 The Changing Places Consortium has made available an online map of facilities, including a route planner which enables quick locating of Changing Places facilities to help with planning a journey. Further information is available via the Changing Places Consortium website.

Driving and parking

8.28 Having access to sufficient numbers of parking spaces can make all the difference in being able to access employment, education, shopping and leisure opportunities as well as visiting friends and family. The draft AAP consultation received a number of responses on the issue of parking, including a call for the Blue Badge eligibility criteria to be reviewed and extended to include people with mental and cognitive conditions which affect their mobility. In addition, several respondents raised concerns that more should be done to reduce pavement parking.

Pavement parking

8.29 Irresponsible parking on the pavement can have a negative effect, particularly when inconsiderate, obstructive or dangerous parking takes place. It can cause problems for those in wheelchairs, guide dog owners or those who are partially sighted or blind, and who may be forced into the road to get around cars parked on pavements. There has been a ban on pavement parking in London for more than 40 years and some respondents wanted to see a national policy extending the ban to the rest of the country. Outside London, councils can restrict pavement parking where there is a problem. This allows for localised policies to target areas or streets with narrow pavements.

8.30 We are committed to ensuring that disabled people can park their cars when they want to. We will carry out a wider review of pavement parking laws and potential options beyond implementing changes to Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) procedures. We also note that the Scottish Government has consulted on new measures to address pavement parking in Scotland, and we will look to learn from the work it has carried out.

Private off street parking

8.31 On street parking is only one aspect of parking policy: the provision of accessible private off street parking is also important to disabled people. We are supportive of the Private Member’s Bill introduced in January 2018 by Sir Greg Knight MP, ‘Parking (Code of Practice) Bill 2017-19’, which seeks to create an independent code of practice for private parking companies, and will provide an opportunity for Government to consider the obligations on private parking companies, including the provisions in place to make travel accessible for all. The Bill has now been passed to the Public Bill Committee.

Blue Badges

8.32 In addition to parking issues, disabled people also raised concerns through the draft AAP consultation about the provision of Blue Badges and some called for an expansion of those eligible to apply for a Blue Badge to include those with less visible disabilities. The Department consulted on this earlier in 2018, and will announce a way forward later this year.

Increasing levels of Wheelchair Accessible Taxis and PHVs

8.33 Whilst we have seen improvements in the numbers of accessible buses or trains in service, we are aware that the levels of wheelchair accessible taxis and private hire vehicles are still comparatively low, with only 58% of taxis and 2% of private hire vehicles being wheelchair accessible. A number of draft AAP consultation responses highlighted regional variations in the levels of provision of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) with some areas of the country (particularly those outside urban areas) having low proportions of WAVs, whilst more urban areas, such as London having higher proportions.

8.34 Under Section 167 of the Equality Act 2010 local licensing authorities may maintain lists of vehicles they have designated as being wheelchair accessible, so as to ensure that their drivers are subject to the requirements at Section 165 of the same Act, to provide wheelchair users with assistance and to refrain from charging them extra. We strongly encourage authorities to exercise this power and maintain and publish lists, and to ensure that wheelchair users are protected from discriminatory behaviour.

8.35 Through our engagement with disabled people during the consultation it was clear how important wheelchair accessible taxis and PHVs were to enabling people to attend hospital appointments, go shopping or visit friends. We want to see a much greater proportion of WAVs, particularly in non-urban areas, over the next 10 years.

8.36 By autumn 2018, we will write to all local licensing authorities stressing the importance of supporting an inclusive taxi and PHV fleet and ask those authorities who have not already done so to publish lists of vehicles designated as wheelchair accessible under Section 167 of the Equality Act 2010. We will continue to monitor the proportion of WAVs within overall taxi and private hire vehicle fleets, as reported in the annual DfT taxi and PHV statistics, and to seek clarification from authorities as to the steps they are taking to assess and respond to the local need for such vehicles. As a first step we have published a list of the highest performing local licensing authorities in terms of the proportion of WAVs in their fleet (see Annex A).

8.37 We will also publish a list of those authorities which do, and do not, publish lists of WAVs, to share best practice. If the number of authorities publishing these lists does not increase significantly, we will consider amending the Equality Act to mandate local licensing authorities to publish lists of wheelchair accessible vehicles in their local areas.

Inclusive bus infrastructure

8.38 For disabled travellers, buses are an important mode of transport with 932,000 disabled concessionary bus passes held in England in 2016/17, equivalent to 10% of all concessionary bus passes. As part of the AAP consultation, several respondents highlighted concerns about the design of wheelchair spaces on buses. In particular, concerns were raised about bus wheelchair spaces being designed to accommodate a reference-sized wheelchair which can be smaller than most modern wheelchairs. Also, a number of wheelchair users stated that they struggle to manoeuvre into designated spaces and were unable to reach the button to signal the driver to stop. Another frequently raised concern was a lack of driver consideration of wheelchair users i.e. drivers lacking confidence in resolving disputes over wheelchair space.

8.39 A Written Ministerial Statement accepting in principle the findings of the Task and Finish Group on the Use of Wheelchair Spaces on Buses, subject to further consultation, was made on 8 March 2018. Following further engagement with affected stakeholders, we will announce later in 2018 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.

Inclusive rail infrastructure, staffing and trains

8.40 For disabled people levels of staffing and the quality of customer service on the railway can make the difference between having the confidence to travel and not. This was a point raised through the Accessibility Action Plan consultation.

8.41 The Government has made clear that with growing passenger numbers we want to see more not fewer staff on the railway. The Government fully recognises the importance of providing assistance to those who need support to travel and, as we modernise the network and new trains arrive, this can be delivered through a combination of staffing and infrastructure. The newest trains on our network no longer require crew to operate the doors, and this frees them up to allow more time to help passengers, including those with accessibility requirements.

8.42 In addition to staffing levels on the railway, we also recognise the importance of inclusive rail infrastructure and accessible facilities on board trains to enabling disabled people to travel with confidence. As noted in chapter 4, by 2020 all passenger trains will have to meet modern accessibility standards, which includes the provision of wheelchair spaces, audio visual passenger information systems, priority seating and accessible toilets, where toilets are provided. This will deliver significant benefits for disabled people.

8.43 All newly built trains meet accessibility standards by design and also offer opportunities for innovation to deliver real progress in independent travel for disabled passengers and persons with reduced mobility. Under the Greater Anglia franchise, new trains being delivered in 2019 will have automated platform gap fillers fitted. These will be operated by on-board staff and have the potential to provide reliable alternatives to the need for a manual boarding ramp to bridge the gap between the train and the platform. The Department will work with the operator to promote and share its experience of using this technology to inform the wider industry perspective on tackling the challenge that steps/gaps from train to platform present to passengers.

Inclusive aviation

8.44 Passengers with reduced mobility are almost half as likely to have flown in the past year as other passengers and 40% of those who had flown said that the level of accessibility on flights was a decisive factor. General satisfaction levels overall are lower for disabled passengers than non-disabled passengers. There is little evidence to point towards why that is, but it could be that the inflight experience is less comfortable for those with reduced mobility. Anecdotal evidence suggests that issues such as moving around the cabin can be undignified and embarrassing, almost certainly leading to lower satisfaction levels.

8.45 The draft AAP consultation highlighted the positive work being undertaken by airports to make the experience of flying more accessible for disabled people. Initiatives include the Gatwick lanyard which is available free of charge to people with less visible disabilities and can be worn on their journey through the airport. The lanyard helps to identify the individual to staff as someone who may need additional support or understanding. Staff have been specially trained to recognise the lanyards and act accordingly. However, we also wish to see more steps taken by airlines to ensure that disabled people are able to take trips in comfort.

8.46 We intend to publish an Aviation Strategy consultation at the end of 2018, which will contain policy proposals to improve disabled people’s access to, and experience of, using aviation. These proposals were outlined in our ‘Next Steps Towards an Aviation Strategy’ report published on 7 April 2018.

8.47 Some of the measures under consideration include:

  • Working with industry to offer better on-board wheelchair and disabled toilet facilities;
  • Examining how aircraft manufacturers can better design aircraft to make them more accessible, for example by removing seats to accommodate wheelchairs and prioritising wheelchair storage for quick access on arrival;
  • Reducing the distance disabled passengers have to walk within airports by encouraging the installation of travellators when building refurbishment or expansion of terminals are taking place.

Actions to deliver our objectives

8.48 In order to improve physical infrastructure, we will:

Procurement:

  • Consider diversity and inclusion requirements, at pre-procurement stage and where possible incorporate these requirements within the procurement process. .

Transport planning:

  • By 2019, request that local highway authorities help to improve local journeys to and from hospital for disabled and older people by actively considering the location of bus stops and routes, when developing the next iteration of their local transport plans.

Taxis and PHVs:

  • From autumn 2018, publish data on an annual basis on the proportion of wheelchair accessible taxis and PHVs in local areas;
  • From autumn 2019 publish on an annual basis a list of those authorities which we know to have issued a list of taxis and PHVs designated as being wheelchair accessible in accordance with Section 167 of the Equality Act 2010;
  • Continue to encourage local licensing authorities, which have not already done so, to publish lists of taxis and PHVs designated as wheelchair accessible under Section 167 of the Equality Act 2010, and to inform the Department that they have done so.

Bus and bus infrastructure:

  • Following further engagement with affected stakeholders, we will announce later in 2018 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;
  • During 2019, commission research to identify a standard for accessible bus stations and stops, benchmark a sample of existing facilities against it, and develop a toolkit to assist local authorities in improving the accessibility of such roadside infrastructure;
  • By the end of 2018, consult on draft Accessible Information Regulations, requiring the provision of audible and visible upcoming stop and route information on board local bus services in Great Britain; and by 2022, to have seen a significant increase in the availability of such information on-board services;
  • Announce £2 million of funding in the current financial year to help speed up the roll-out of audio visual information across bus fleets.

Community transport:

  • Community transport operators provide vital services that link people and communities to services including hospital appointments, and we want to see this continue. The Department will be announcing next steps following the outcome of the recent consultation in due course.

Public realm:

  • Request that local authorities pause on the installation of shared space schemes incorporating a level surface, whilst we revise our guidance on this to take account of the recommendations recently made by the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation and advice received from DPTAC. Alongside this, we will temporarily withdraw Local Transport Note 1/11: Shared Space;
  • By autumn 2018, publish the conclusions of the research project currently underway to review the existing Departmental guidance on both Tactile Paving and Inclusive Mobility, with the view to expanding or updating them and exploring whether the two sets of documents should be combined;
  • Following consideration of the findings from this research project the Department will consider the extent of any changes to guidance required.

Driving:

  • Provide £2 million of new funding to enable more motorway service area operators to install Changing Places facilities at existing and new facilities in England;
  • Continue our work to gather evidence on pavement parking, the effectiveness of current laws, and potential alternatives, noting the recent consultation by the Scottish Government on new measures for tackling this issue in Scotland. We hope to complete this work by the end of 2018;
  • Announce our actions in response to the recent Blue Badge consultation by the end of this year.

Cycling:

  • Update Local Transport Note 2/08, which sets out the Department’s guidance to local authorities on designing safe and inclusive infrastructure for cyclists, to take account of developments in cycling infrastructure since its publication in 2008 and the responses to the draft AAP consultation and publish a revised version by early 2019;
  • By 2020, explore the feasibility of amending legislation to recognise the use of cycles as a mobility aid in order to increase the number of disabled people cycling.

Rail:

  • Provide up to £300 million of funding to extend the programme to improve the accessibility of the railway until at least 2024;
  • Deliver the ‘Access for All’ rail accessibility programme to the stations which were deferred in 2015 following Sir Peter Hendy’s review of Network Rail’s investment programme, with work to start as soon as possible after 1 April 2019;
  • Seek industry nominations for additional ‘Access for All’ projects in 2018 and announce the next tranche of stations in April 2019;
  • Make a proportion of the next tranche of Access for All funding available for a new round of ‘Access for All’ Mid-Tier funding which will support station accessibility projects requiring between £250,000 and £1m of Government support. Previous projects included additional accessible toilets, platform humps to aid boarding and better customer information systems;
  • By the end of 2018, provide disabled people travelling on almost all of the rail network with the option to travel using smart cards or barcodes on mobile phones, allowing passengers to buy tickets online without having to queue at ticket offices or ticket machines. This could benefit those who find it difficult to use a ticket machine or ticket office to buy or collect their ticket;
  • In summer 2018, begin work on a Ticket Vending Machine strategy and consider the issues raised in the draft AAP consultation as part of this work;
  • Publish research, by the end of 2019, which will measure the impact for passengers of work to improve rail vehicle accessibility since the introduction of Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations (RVAR) and the Persons of Reduced Mobility Technical Specification for Interoperability (PRM-TSI). Following feedback received from the AAP consultation, this research will review the impact of existing accessible design standards on the experience of those with visual impairments and assistance dogs;
  • Work with the RDG to identify what further steps can be taken to improve the provision of toilet facilities by the end of 2018.

Aviation:

  • Publish an Aviation Strategy consultation at the end of 2018, which will contain policy proposals to improving disabled people’s access to, and experience of, using aviation. These proposals were outlined in our ‘Next Steps Towards an Aviation Strategy’ (PDF, 3,260KB) report published on 7 April 2018;
  • Examine how aircraft manufacturers can improve the design of aircraft to make them more accessible – for example by removing seats to better accommodate folding wheelchairs and prioritising wheelchair storage for quick access on arrival;
  • Ensure a more robust application of the legislation concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air in relation to infrastructure improvements. We will work with managing bodies of airports to ensure that the needs of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility are taken into account when deciding on the design of new airports and terminals, and as part of major refurbishments.

Maritime:

  • In 2019, in consultation with DPTAC, publish a toolkit for the maritime industry highlighting key challenges disabled people can face in travelling by sea as well as recommendations on how they can make maritime infrastructure more accessible, for example, by considering including accessible toilets and Changing Places facilities when they upgrade and renovate port infrastructure and providing facilities so that disabled and reduced mobility passengers can park close to port terminal buildings while waiting to board a vessel.

Other Government Departments

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

8.49 Further action will be taken across Government to improve physical infrastructure and access. We will continue to provide Government support to the Private Member’s Bill introduced into Parliament by Sir Greg Knight that seeks to create an independent code of practice for private parking companies. Should the Bill progress, there will be an opportunity for us to consider the obligations on private parking companies, in relation to making travel and parking accessible for all.

Department of Health and Social Care Patient Transport Services (PTS) guidance

8.50 The Department of Health and Social Care will ensure that the central guidance on patient transport service eligibility is updated so that patient transport services are delivered efficiently and consistently across England.

8.51 By the end of 2018, NHS England and NHS Improvement will jointly undertake a scoping exercise in relation to a wider review of patient transport services. This analysis will inform the approach to refreshing the guidance.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulation of PTS

8.52 Alongside its regular inspection of NHS ambulance services, the CQC has committed to inspect all independent ambulance providers, including those engaged in providing NHS patient transport services.

8.53 These inspections consider the effectiveness, responsiveness, leadership, safety and patient care performance of these providers, seeking feedback from a wide range of stakeholders including NHS commissioners, and taking account of performance against contractual requirements. CQC will report on themes for continued improvement in the sector by March 2019.

8.54 CQC has also consulted on its next phase of inspections for independent healthcare services, including independent ambulance services. From July 2018, CQC will use its new powers to rate independent providers of patient transport services in the same way as NHS ambulance services. This will increase the transparency of service quality with patients and commissioners, informing choice and further focussing independent providers on making service improvements.

Health service changes and transport considerations

8.55 In shaping local services, planning authorities must work together to take account of the health, housing, educational and transport needs of their populations.

8.56 NHS England’s guidance Planning, assuring and delivering service change for patients (PDF, 590KB) makes clear that all health service change should be assured against the government’s four tests:

  • Strong public and patient engagement;
  • Consistency with current and prospective need for patient choice;
  • A clear, clinical evidence base; and
  • Support for proposals from clinical commissioners.

8.57 NHS commissioners and providers need to ensure that they have satisfied their statutory duties to involve and consult stakeholders, and the guidance also makes clear that a Travel Impact Assessment should be undertaken to model the impact of local health service changes, including analysis of available transport options, public transport schedules and the availability and affordability of car parking.

9. The future of inclusive transport

Technology has huge potential to make transport much easier for disabled people and bring advantages to some people who will never otherwise get the benefits of the private car.

DPTAC

9.1 Our transport systems are changing. Emerging technologies such as connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) and mobility as a service business models (MaaS) which integrate various modes of transport along with information and payment functions, have the potential to change the way disabled people travel. With active engagement, technology can enable new ways for older people or those with visible or less visible conditions to get around.

9.2 However, without active engagement and consideration of their needs, innovations can risk accidently ‘designing out’ sections of society who might benefit most. Design omissions could be as simple as future vehicles or services which are too small to accommodate users of larger sized electric wheelchairs or mobility scooters, or lack detailed consideration of the audio visual requirements of those with sight loss or hearing impairments, or are not sensitive to the needs of those with mental or cognitive impairments.

9.3 Through the draft AAP consultation, stakeholders highlighted the opportunities offered by technological innovation but also the risk that, unless a conscious decision was taken to consider the needs of older and disabled people, future transport policy could repeat the mistakes of the past.

9.4 The design of future vehicles and mobility services should be carried out with thorough dialogue with disabled people, prior to the commencement of any physical development. We also believe that no transport infrastructure, vehicle or digital media design should be progressed without having been informed by the lived experience of disabled people and their projected requirements for the future.

9.5 We also understand that the needs of disabled people change over time and that in the years since the internationally recognised reference wheelchair specification was adopted to provide the basis for vehicle layouts across the transport system, the size and nature of mobility equipment used by many people has changed significantly. We will therefore review our use of the reference wheelchair standard, and will make recommendations by 2023 on its continued use or the use of an alternative specification.

9.6 We will also undertake by 2028, a review of the continued efficacy of the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) and consider how the future needs of disabled people travelling by local and road based public transport, regardless of their journey’s purpose, should be met in the future.

9.7 Ultimately it is our aspiration that local and road-based public transport should be equally accessible to everyone wishing to use it, and that the specification of vehicles, supporting infrastructure, staff training, and human-machine interaction elements should be designed from the outset in an inclusive way.

9.8 Over the next ten to twenty years we are likely to see significant changes in the way transport services are delivered, including perhaps a blurring of today’s distinctions between buses, coaches, taxis and PHVs as well as changes to who is providing them (including the emergence of transport provided through the gig economy). The Government will need to ensure that services remain accessible whatever type of vehicle or business model is providing them and that no passenger is disenfranchised.

9.9 Whilst the nature of vehicles providing them may change, the value to disabled people of services currently provided by taxis and PHVs is unlikely to diminish over time. It will therefore remain essential that these services meet the needs of a wide range of passengers, and that licensing authorities responsible for their regulation ensure that this happens. We want those delivering these services to take pride in the service they provide to disabled passengers, and licensing authorities to ensure they are equipped with the skills and knowledge to accomplish this. It will continue to be essential that licensing authorities understand the access needs of passengers in their area that this is reflected in the composition of vehicle fleets, and that authorities take a zero tolerance approach to any instances where people are treated less favourably because they are disabled.

9.10 In addition, we see investment in the accessibility of infrastructure supporting local transport services as being essential to removing existing barriers to equal access, and the avoidance of the creation of new ones. In the short term we have committed to understanding the nature of bus station and stop accessibility, and supporting Local Authorities to design new facilities in an inclusive manner. In the longer term, consideration may also need to be given to how standards for local transport infrastructure are provided or existing features upgraded, in a similar manner to the application of standards for rail station accessibility.

Economic and social benefits

9.11 We see a real opportunity for fresh thinking in transport and mobility service design which could unlock benefits for people who may have struggled to travel using our current services as well as economic benefits for the new businesses and services accessed by disabled and older people.

9.12 Meeting the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge established in the Industrial Strategy, which aims to make the UK a world leader in innovation to solve transport challenges, is a clear priority for the Department. We have funded a number of inclusive transport innovation projects seeking to increase the accessibility of our transport systems. One example is the Wayfindr project (which has produced an open standard for audio navigation of indoor environments and transport hubs) which was funded by the Department through our Transport Technology Research and Innovation Grants (T-TRIG).

9.13 Another example is the two innovation competitions, valued at £600,000 and announced as part of the draft AAP consultation in 2017, run by the Rail Safety and Standards Board. These sought cost-saving solutions to challenges faced by those with mental, cognitive and developmental impairments using our rail network. These competitions sought innovative solutions where traditional solutions have proved prohibitively expensive.

9.14 The winning entries (PDF, 238KB) included innovations offering lower cost solutions to improving physical access to stations (e.g. lifts and toilets) and used Information Technology to support people with less visible disabilities (including impairments affecting learning, memory and mental health as well as developmental conditions such as autism).

Case Study: The Dementia Project

Since 2017 Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) in North Wales has been working with two small businesses via a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) to produce a solution that will assist people living with dementia who experience high levels of anxiety when travelling to and attending hospital. This project was jointly funded by the Welsh Government and the Department for Transport.

The first project is a unique dementia-friendly transport app which is being developed by Damibu, a health technology company based in Liverpool. The app acts as a companion on a given journey, to direct people from their house to the hospital or any other location they are travelling to, and then to the relevant department within the hospital or other building. Damibu has carried out extensive patient engagement in the form of 12 co-creation sessions with potential service users affected by early-stage dementia, and this has greatly influenced the design.

In the second project, Zipabout (based in Oxford) is developing a journey planning and wayfinding platform. By accessing real-time information from across the transport network, the Zipabout platform provides personalised routing to the user to avoid stressful environments (e.g. crowded locations or unstaffed stations). The platform is being delivered through a prototype app which will trial image recognition technologies which can provide ongoing reassurance that a user is in the correct location, which could serve as a confidence boost for unsure travellers. The research projects are expected to be completed by autumn 2018.

9.15 We are committed to going a great deal further than this and will use our platform as Government to set a clear direction to the transport technology sector on the importance of inclusive design. This will include engaging with disabled people directly on the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge, continuing to fund accessible transport innovation and challenging technology developers and designers on the extent to which they have considered the needs of disabled and older people in the design of a product or service.

Actions to deliver our objectives

9.16 In order to maximise the opportunities available through future technologies, we will:

  • Set a clear direction to industry on the importance of inclusive design as part of future innovation through the forthcoming Future of Mobility Call for Evidence and Future of Urban Mobility Strategy;
  • Ensure that accessibility is considered throughout the Future of Mobility Regulatory Review. This will include examining whether new regulation is needed to ensure that emerging technologies and services are accessible;
  • Engage directly with disabled people and organisations as part of our development of future transport strategy;
  • Ensure that disabled people are represented wherever possible on DfT funded Project Boards for significant transport infrastructure, vehicle and digital media developments and procurements;
  • Continue to ensure that DfT innovation competitions highlight the need for prospective funding recipients to consider accessibility and inclusive design within their project proposals, where projects impact on transport users;
  • Keep under review the efficacy of our strengthened recommendations on the provision of an inclusive and accessible taxi and PHV service and take further action if necessary to ensure that this most vital transport service is accessible to everyone wishing to use it;
  • Review our use of the reference wheelchair standard, and make recommendations by 2023 on its continued use or the use of an alternative specification;
  • Undertake by 2028 a review of the continued efficacy of the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) and consider how the future needs of disabled people travelling by local and road based public transport, regardless of their journey’s purpose, should be met in the future.

10. Governance, monitoring and evaluation

To ensure the credibility of the draft AAP…..it should clearly explain the tangible outcomes to be achieved, how the Department will monitor and measure those, and how this fits with the DfT’s short, medium and long-term strategic goals.

DPTAC

Monitoring and evaluation

10.1 We are committed to monitoring the delivery of this Strategy and evaluating its impact, to see what progress has been made towards improving transport for disabled people, and to enable us to adapt our policies and interventions in light of real-world developments. We will develop a delivery plan to support this Strategy, which will set out the timescales, owners and progress on each action within this document, and will form part of the governance and accountability process set out below,

10.2 Within six months of the publication of this Strategy we will publish a monitoring and evaluation framework. This will specify key output indicators to assess our progress against our ambition and actions.

10.3 The framework will also specify how we will evaluate the specific policies, processes and actions specified in the Strategy, using targeted research to understand what impact they are having on disabled people, across all the modes of transport, and how we can improve what we do in the future.

10.4 In developing this framework, we will engage with disabled people and disabled people’s organisations, as well as our statutory advisory committee, DPTAC. We will also involve experts, including academics, to learn about how similar strategies have been monitored and evaluated in other countries.

10.5 We will publish regular monitoring reports, beginning with a baseline report, which will set out the progress made against the indicators identified in the framework. We will also publish an interim evaluation report giving early results on the impact of this Strategy, with the final evaluation report to be published in 2022.

Governance

10.6 Good governance is key to the effective oversight and delivery of this Strategy. We are committed to ensuring transparency in the development and on-going delivery of the Strategy, and we want to ensure this Strategy is truly cross-governmental. Therefore, we aim to promote a culture of mutually supportive working at the heart of the Strategy.

10.7 With this in mind, the governance model for overseeing delivery will involve the Department, other government departments, DPTAC and wider stakeholders.

10.8 Responsibility for delivery of the Strategy lies with the Senior Responsible Owner (SRO), reporting to the Minister for Accessibility. The SRO will be supported by a Programme Manager and Programme Team. The Programme Board will meet on a quarterly basis, chaired by the programme SRO, and at each meeting will review the Strategy delivery plan and progress against actions.

10.9 The Department will establish a new stakeholder advisory group involving local government, transport operators, disabled people’s organisations, and charities, to be chaired by the Programme Manager. This group will provide external support in rolling out the actions in the Strategy as well as providing a challenge function.

10.10 Cross-government input into the Strategy, including delivery of wider government actions, and cross-government accountability, will be through the new Inter-Ministerial Group on Disabled People and Society, chaired by the Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions. Further scrutiny will be provided by DPTAC, with DPTAC’s Chair meeting the Minister for Accessibility on a minimum quarterly basis. In addition the Minister will call a formal annual meeting involving DPTAC, the external stakeholder advisory group and the programme board to review progress, and will meet with both DPTAC and the advisory group on an ad hoc basis as required.

Annex A

Table 1 A list of the local licensing authorities with the highest proportion of wheelchair accessible vehicles in their taxi fleets (100% in all cases)

Upper tier authorities that are marked Unitary are also the local licensing authority (they are responsible for all devolved powers).

Upper tier authorityLicensing authority
Blackburn with DarwenUnitary
LancashireBurnley
Preston
West Lancashire
Greater ManchesterBury
Manchester
Salford
Stockport
Tameside
Trafford
Kingston upon Hull, City ofUnitary
South YorkshireDoncaster
Sheffield
DerbyUnitary
NottinghamUnitary
NottinghamshireRushcliffe
LincolnshireSouth Holland
NorthamptonshireCorby
Kettering
Northampton
South Northamptonshire
StaffordshireSouth Staffordshire
Tamworth
Telford and WreckinUnitary
West MidlandsBirmingham
Coventry
Dudley
Sandwell
Solihull
Walsall
Wolverhampton
WarwickshireStratford-on-Avon
NorfolkNorwich
PeterboroughUnitary
LutonUnitary
BedfordUnitary
HertfordshireHertsmere
Three Rivers
EssexHarlow
LondonTransport for London
OxfordshireOxford
BuckinghamshireAylesbury Vale
Bracknell ForestUnitary
ReadingUnitary
HampshireBasingstoke and Deane
Rushmoor
SurreyEpsom and Ewell
KentMaidstone
West SussexChichester
GloucestershireTewkesbury
Bristol, city ofUnitary
PlymouthUnitary
LeicesterUnitary

Annex B: Key rights of disabled passengers

The annex B section of rights for disabled passengers on transport is listed separately.

 

Source: The Inclusive Transport Strategy: Achieving Equal Access For Disabled People

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