Audio-visual cues to assist disabled to become mandatory on public transport
Public transport across the UK will be adapted to make it more accessible for disabled passengers, including audio and visual announcements on busses and tactile paving on train station platforms.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said it will bring forward new regulations to force bus companies to provide the announcements on services and will offer £3.5m grants to help smaller firms achieve this.
It will also work with Network Rail to improve safety with a new programme to install all station platforms with tactile paving, while a 'Passenger Assist' app will simplify communication with rail staff.
Legislation covering taxis and private hire vehicles will also be introduced to protect disabled passengers from being overcharged.
Accessibility minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Disabled passengers should be empowered to use all forms of transport with the same confidence as everyone else – whether by taxi, train, bus or ferry. Today’s measures will have a positive, real-life impact and double-down on our promise to build back fairer from Covid-19.”
There is also a boost to seaports, with new £1m funding to improve access at ports to the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly.
The DfT will also work with consumer groups to design more accessible charge points for electric vehicles, as the industry steers away from fuel-burning cars. This follows a study that found the UK needs to ramp up the installation of charge points by about five times the current rate if the plan to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 is to be achieved.
Robert Burley, a director at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “We regularly hear from people living with muscle-wasting conditions who have had to cancel or cut short days out, or don’t consider them at all, because of poor accessibility.
“The strategy announced today is a step in the right direction to helping tackle the exclusion that so many disabled people face on a daily basis.”
The measures are part of the government’s 'National Disability Strategy' which includes initiatives to boost the amount of supported housing, as well as £300m to improve accessibility in schools and improving access to cultural venues.
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