The Department for Transport has today published its Inclusive Transport Strategy, with a clear objective to help ensure that all Disabled people “can travel confidently and easily”; and make transport fully accessible for all passengers by 2030.
This strategy has come after considerable lobbying by and consultation with many Disabled peoples organisations and charities. Transport for All has made it’s voice heard clearly during this process and is pleased to be able to broadly welcome today’s announcement.
The strategy that targets Road and Rail, includes investment in rail accessibility infrastructure, commitments to produce league tables which highlight operators that are delivering the best service for Disabled people, and funding for Changing Places accessible toilets at motorway service stations.
Amongst the specific commitments, Government has pledged to put up to £300 million of funding into extending the Access for All programme, making railway stations more accessible, including step-free access. TfA has been vociferously campaigning as part of our Rail Access Now campaign for some time asking the government to not only restore Access for All funding previously deferred but also increase funding to make more railway stations fully accessible. We cautiously welcome this commitment and eagerly await details of this programme.
After recent high profile issues with rail travel, TfA welcomes both a commitment to improve and simplify the Passenger Assist service (the system Disabled passengers use to book assistance on the rail network) and the announcement that “Train operators will be held to account for delivering on this service, ensuring they compensate passengers if the booked assistance is not provided”.
Transport for All welcome this news and is delighted the voices of Disabled and Older People have been heard.
TfA’s Chair, Alan Benson says
“Transport for All welcomes the announcement and the fact that the Government has committed to setting some very challenging goals, which are much needed.
“We look forward to seeing the details on how they are planning to make transport in this country fully accessible by 2030 and seeing details of the investments that will back it. We also hope that the Inclusive Transport Strategy will meet our demands for a Transport system that everyone can use“.
TfA is particularly pleased to see an explicit acknowledgement from Transport Accessibility Minister Nusrat Ghani that travel can be difficult and that this is not good enough in 21st Centuary Britain. She says:
“Transport is at the heart of how we live our lives. It helps us get to work, stay in touch with friends and family, and access vital services like healthcare and education.
“But for our ageing population and the fifth of people who are disabled, access to transport can be far from straightforward.
“This Inclusive Transport Strategy is the first step in achieving a genuinely inclusive transport network, which meets the needs of all people, regardless of whether they are disabled or not.”
Other specific measures announced today include:
- £2 million to install Changing Places toilets at motorway service stations, supporting disabled people to travel easily and comfortably on the road network;
- £2 million for audio and visual equipment on buses, so that passengers on almost every bus will know where and when to alight;
- A £2 million passenger awareness campaign to increase disability awareness and reduce hate crime on our network;
- An accreditation scheme for transport operators to receive formal recognition for positive work to improve disabled passengers’ experiences, such as training frontline staff and senior management on disability awareness;
- Ensuring future technology is designed inclusively from the outset, with opportunities sought to harness innovation.
Alan Benson concluded by saying “Whilst this strategy represents a significant step in the right direction, the intentions are only as good as the changes that result so we look forward to seeing the milestones and targets by which these words will be judged.”
The Government has also acknowledged that more needs to be done to improve accessibility for aviation. These measures will be announced at a later date as part of a forthcoming Aviation Strategy.
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