In 2017, the UK Supreme Court concluded in a judgement the need for ‘reasonable adjustment’ by bus operators to accommodate passengers with wheelchairs. Now, UK government takes up the call for adjustment by its commitment to introduce both, safe and easy access to buses as well as reserved and sufficient space onboard the vehicles.
Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani highlighted the need to provide the same travelling opportunities for passengers with reduced mobility that they provide for non-mobility impaired passengers. Services must be reliable and useable for all; “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”, the Minister stated.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is therefore working on proposals to ensure full use of buses by wheelchair users. In addition, they will consider the duties to be performed by bus drivers in relation to making bus transport fully accessible for wheelchair users. The proposals are to be developed in close co-operation with bus drivers and people with reduced mobility. In this instance, 'people with reduced mobility' includes other groups with special travelling needs, such as young children and other mobility impaired passengers and is not restricted to wheelchair users. Together with DfT they form the stakeholder ‘task and finish group on the use of wheelchair spaces on buses’ to safeguard that proposal meet the need of the actual target groups.
People with reduced mobility use buses 10 times as often compared to rail services, which highlights the significance of bot, the Supreme Court’s decision, and the government’s action.
The Disabled Persons ‘Transport Advisory Committee’ welcomes the government initiative. Its Chair Keith Richards appreciates the quick actions of the Department for Transport on the judgement and points out that wheelchair users should not need to fight for sufficient space when using public transport. The Supreme Court’s decision eases the fight for space with the implication that passengers who do not need the spaces that have been dedicated to wheelchairs should move when it is required by a wheelchair user.
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Story first published by Intelligent Transport on 9th of March 2018.