Transport Minister Andrew Jones MP has travelled with Transport for All (TfA) with the aim to see the reality of public transport access as part of its #GetYourMPOnBoard campaign.
Alan Benson, who uses an electric wheelchair and Faryal Velmi, Director of TfA, travelled from Twickenham Railway Station using train, tube and bus to the Department of Transport in Central London.
The pair raised many issues, including the lack of spontaneous ‘Turn Up and Go’ assistance available across the UK’s rail network, the issue of only 25% of the Tube network being Step free and the need to evolve bus design so that disabled people can travel with the same freedom and independence as other passengers.
Alan and Faryal said there was a need to include robust guidelines in the upcoming Buses Bill around accessibility.
Andrew Jones said: “It was good to meet the team and I’m grateful for this proper insight into the challenges disabled people face, which reaffirms why this is a key part of our agenda.
“We’ve made significant progress since 2010 in improving accessibility on public transport. 89% of buses are now fully accessible, compared to 59% in 2010, and by 2019 hundreds of railway stations will have step-free access – but there is always more we can do.”
Alan Benson, a Trustee of Transport for All, said: “Even in 2016 many disabled people have to severely restrict their lives or at worst are stuck in their homes because of inaccessible transport.
“Disabled people make a third fewer trips than non-disabled people. Three quarters of disabled people say they experience barriers to using public transport.
“Transport for All is calling on MPs to improve bus accessibility through the Buses Bill. At the moment, bus drivers must ask buggy users to move if a wheelchair user wants to board by law, but many bus drivers do not bother asking.
“TfA is urging MPs to support statutory guidance to the Buses Bill which would set out clear duties for bus companies to support disabled passengers.”