The government has decided to introduce new measures to ensure that wheelchair users can safely access on-board wheelchair spaces on buses following a Supreme Court judgment concerning the ‘reasonable adjustments’ bus operators should provide for passengers in wheelchairs.
The Department for Transport announced that it will begin developing new 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 that passengers with disabilities must have the same opportunities to travel as other members of society, and it that 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 their disability and accessible transport networks are vital if we are to support those with disabilities to live independent lives and fulfil their potential.”
In order to fully understand the implications of the judgment for all passengers and for the bus industry, and to identify actions for the government and others to take to ensure that any adjustments can be provided on buses, 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 that the committee welcomed the “speed of the department’s response” to the Supreme Court’s judgement.
“Fighting for what is essential space should not be part of the day-to-day experience wheelchair users have when using buses. We hope the department will maintain its pace into the implementation phase, to ensure that wheelchair users no longer face these challenges or have to fight for facilities provided for them in law. Without a greater degree of certainty over the use of the space confidence in using public transport will be difficult to achieve.
“The group considered the impact of the current situation on disabled passengers and the options available to address them, and we now need the jigsaw of interventions proposed to be put in place to make a meaningful difference for wheelchair users.”
DfT said that people with disabilities make 10 times as many journeys by bus as by rail. It added that accessible buses are “crucial in supporting them to live independent lives and fulfil their potential”.