The Department for Transport (DfT) in the UK recently announced a range of initiatives that will improve autonomy for people with reduced mobility. The plan is to remove barriers and improve confidence for disabled people as they return to use public transport after the pandemic. The initiative follows the “It’s everyone’s journey” campaign, launched in 2020 to boost equal access across all forms of public transport and encourage people to be more supportive of others when travelling.
The DfT is developing a new public database of all UK train stations to help identify improvements and shape future investments in transport accessibility. In addition, it is also planning to implement new regulations to force bus companies to provide audible and visual announcements onboard, accompanied by grants for smaller bus companies to help them implement this requirement.
Moreover, DfT will also support new legislation for taxis and private hire vehicles to better ensure passenger assistance when needed and to protect passengers from being overcharged. Boosting seaports is also part of the strategy, with new funding to improve access at ports to the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly. In addition, alongside local authorities, DfT will work to reduce irregular parking on pavements, so vulnerable pedestrians can make journeys more safely and easily.
“It’s important that transport operators seek the views of disabled people to make sure services better suit their needs as the country recovers from the pandemic,” said Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus.
“The strategy announced today is a step in the right direction to helping tackle the exclusion that so many disabled people face on a daily basis,” added Robert Burley, Director of Campaigns, Care and Support at Muscular Dystrophy.
The measures are part of the UK government’s National Disability Strategy, a plan that makes solid commitments and sets out immediate practical steps to create a society that works for everyone. This strategy includes not only accessibility to transport, but to housing, schools and cultural venues.
Original article published by Intelligent Transport on 28 July 2021.
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