Budget 2021: What’s included for accessible transport across the UK?

Budget 2021: What’s included for accessible transport across the UK? Image of Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, holding the red box.

Transport for All welcome this much needed injection of funding for the nation’s transport network. 

Disabled passengers face a multitude of barriers to getting around, particularly in areas where public transport options are limited. Approximately 40% of disabled people have no household access to a private vehicle (well above the national average of 21%), so it is vital that all forms of public transport, and Active Travel initiatives, are accessible and inclusive. 

We welcome the £5.7 billion sustainable transport boost for City Regions. Among the proposed projects – including renovated stations in Liverpool and Runcorn, and procurement of new Metrolink tram-train vehicles in Greater Manchester – are many opportunities for much-needed accessibility upgrades. 

Elsewhere in the budget, we saw plans to progress the rail reforms as set out in the Williams-Shapps review, including £205 million to begin the mobilisation of Great British Railways (GBR). We will be monitoring this progress closely, and continuing to lobby Government to set itself high aspirations for a fully inclusive and accessible railway network – one which features Level Boarding. 

Accessible bus services must also be a priority for this and future fundingbuilding upon the recent National Bus Strategy published in MarchDisabled people need that strategy’s bold accessibility promises to be delivered: from mandating the provision of audible and visible route and next stop announcements on local bus services; to ensuring that all buses funded by Government provide enhanced level of accessibility including a second priority space for wheelchairs. 

What else is in the Budget?

£2 billion for cycling and walking

Including delivering an e-bike support programme to make cycling more accessible.

£35 billion for rail

Rail investment over the year including HS2 and rail enhancements.

£24 billion for roads

Strategic roads investment from 2020 to 2025.

Our response

Katie Pennick, Campaigns Lead at Transport for All, said:  

“We are calling on the city regions who receive funding from this Budget to commit to spending part of those funds on making local transport services more accessible. Disabled people should be able to travel as independently and freely as non-disabled people, and it is vital that these new funds don’t simply increase the current gap in the options facing disabled people in regions across the UK.”

Martha Foulds, a member of Transport for All based in Sheffield, said:  

“As a climate justice activist and an avid cyclist, I welcome the announced funding for transport enhancements and Active Travel measures in South Yorkshire. Disabled people are among the most heavily impacted by the effects of the climate emergency, and yet we are often shut out of greener and sustainable modes of transport as they simply aren't accessible. I hope this funding will enable disabled people across the region to access faster bus services, upgraded shelters and stops, and high-quality and inclusive walking and cycling routes.”

Sarah Rennie, a member of Transport for All based in Birmingham, added: 

“Whilst the metro will bring benefits to the area for many, we can’t allow other modes to slip further behind. We desperately need more audio and visual announcements on buses. Will funding be set aside to tackle our backlog of step-free stations on the train network? Changes to our street scene over the last year has wiped out many Blue Badge parking bays from our towns - a financial injection might flush out of a solution. I welcome the funding announcement but the principle of ‘levelling up’ must apply to all of us.”

Over the coming weeks and months, we will be seeking meetings with elected officials in those city regions set to receive funding, to discuss plans for ring-fencing funding for accessibility upgrades.  

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Budget 2021: What’s included for accessible transport across the UK? Image of Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, holding the red box.

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