UK government commits to making buses accessible for wheelchair users
Legal recommendations are being accepted by the government to ensure people with reduced mobility are able to easily use public buses…
The UK government has committed to introducing safe, on-board wheelchair spaces that are easily accessible on buses.
This follows a Supreme Court judgment in 2017 that concerned the ‘reasonable adjustments’ that bus operators should provide for passengers in wheelchairs. It was aimed at challenging the barriers still faced by some people with reduced mobility when using bus services.
The Department for Transport has announced that it will begin developing proposals to ensure that wheelchair users can access buses and that drivers can fulfil the duties given to them by the courts.
Transport Minister, Nusrat Ghani, said: “Passengers with reduced mobility must have the same opportunities to travel as other members of society and it is essential that the services they rely on are accessible and work for them. Where people live, shop, go out or park their car should not be determined by disability. Accessible transport networks are vital if we are to support those with disabilities to live independent lives and fulfil their potential.”
This follows close engagement with drivers, people with reduced mobility and members of the public travelling with young children, to ensure the plans are informed by those most affected by them. To identify actions for the government the DfT established a stakeholder ‘task and finish group on the use of wheelchair spaces on buses’.
Keith Richards, Chair of Disabled Persons’ Transport Advisory Committee, said: “The committee welcomed the speed of the department’s response to the Supreme Court’s judgement on the use of wheelchair spaces. Fighting for what is essential space should not be part of the day-to-day experience wheelchair users have when using buses.”
People with reduced mobility make 10 times as many journeys by bus as by rail, so accessible buses are crucial in supporting them to live independent lives. The implications of the Supreme Court ruling are that passengers who do not require the wheelchair space should be required to move when it is needed by a wheelchair user.
The government has also recently announced its acceptance of expert legal recommendations, aimed at ensuring wheelchair users access to bus services.