Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

One quarter of disabled people avoid public transport due to inaccessibility

One quarter of disabled and elderly people say they avoid using the public transport system in the UK due to accessibility issues, according to a new survey.

The research, conducted by Oak Tree Mobility, found that 93% of respondents who travelled by train in the past six months faced challenges such as getting on and off the train (60%), getting to and from the station (44%), and navigating the train station (40%).

Over half of disabled passengers also said they did not feel confident planning a journey via public transport due to a lack of accessible information.

Inaccessible public transport affect’s disabled people’s quality of life

Research shows that inaccessible transport systems have a negative impact on people’s quality of life. Research by Scope highlights that inaccessible transport services put disabled people at an increased risk of social isolation and financial pressure.

If public transport routes are too difficult to use, many disabled people are forced to use taxis to get around. This can be an expensive choice, particularly for long journeys, exacerbating the financial burden on disabled people who already incur many additional costs.

Indeed, Scope’s 2023 report on the extra cost of disability indicates that disabled households need an additional £1,122 per month to maintain the same standard of living as non-disabled households.

Verity Kick, Managing Director at Oak Tree Mobility, is now calling on policy leaders to put accessibility issues at the centre of future plans for public transport systems.

She said: “These issues highlight the complexity of fully integrating accessibility into our infrastructure and digital life. It’s clear that while we’ve come a long way, the journey towards complete accessibility is ongoing.

“The challenge now is to build on the successes, learn from the shortcomings, and ensure that accessibility is at the heart of future developments. This balanced approach, recognising both achievements and areas for improvement, is essential for creating a truly inclusive society.”

Where next?

Improving support services and increasing disability training are integral steps towards developing an inclusive transport environment, and Oak Tree Mobility says we must now focus on improving accessibility in UK transportation to meet the needs of all passengers.

To do this, transport businesses in the UK should ensure they adhere to the initiatives laid out in the government’s Inclusive Transport Strategy. This includes:

  • Raising awareness of passenger rights: giving passengers more confidence in reporting non-compliance.
  • Staff training: ensuring staff are trained in disability awareness and assisting disabled and elderly passengers.
  • Accessible information: providing clear, accessible information and support, and implementing more intuitive booking systems.
  • Improving infrastructure: ensuring all public transport systems are designed, built and operated in a way that is easy to use and accessible for all. This includes step-free access, reliable lifts, and accessible toilets.

Oak Tree Mobility says these measures will allow for “greater social inclusion and equality for everyone in society.”

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