Are transport services accessible to all? Transport Committee to investigate legal obligations, enforcement and redress
2 February 2023
The Transport Committee today launches a new inquiry that will examine ways to make different modes of transport, public and private, more accessible to disabled people and those with access needs.
The inquiry will examine the effectiveness of legislation that should require transport providers to make services accessible, how the legislation is enforced and any gaps in it that need to be filled.
The cross-party Committee will also look at the forms of redress available to those who are excluded or mistreated. The full terms of reference can be read below.
The Committee launches this inquiry after hearing from campaigners and charities that various modes of transport are not easily accessible for people with a wide range of disabilities, health conditions and access needs.
The Equality Act, the National Disability Strategy and the Inclusive Transport Strategy are all in place to make sure that disabled people can travel easily and confidently. But research has shown that people with access needs are still less likely to travel, and feel less confident about travelling, than people without access needs.
Transport Committee Chair Iain Stewart MP said:
"After receiving evidence from groups representing disabled people, it became clear to my colleagues and I that there is a great deal of discontent among people with disabilities about the way transport services are run.
Many simply feel locked out of various modes of transport, from trains to planes and taxis, which of course means exclusion from work, education, socialising and all sorts of experiences that many take for granted. Even reaching a train or a bus can be difficult if the streets are not designed inclusively. There are myriad ways that different disabilities can render an individual’s experience on public transport intimidating, stressful, or simply impractical.
This inquiry will take a nuanced look at the system of legal obligations that govern how transport services should be run in a way that’s accessible for all, and at the means of enforcement and redress available to groups who feel side-lined.
We will also look for a solution to the absence of any simple-to-use means of redress for people who are mistreated or denied their rights. People shouldn’t have to threaten huge, well-resourced transport companies with court action – typically a burden on complainants’ time, money and mental health that can take years to conclude.”
The Committee has launched a survey to capture the experiences of people with access needs when using transport services, and their experiences of attempting to complain or seek redress. Visit the survey here.
We welcome responses by Monday 20th March 2023.
Call for evidence
The Transport Committee would like to receive written evidence that addresses the following points. Submissions can be sent to the Committee via our website until Monday 20th March.
- How effective is the current legislation aimed at ensuring accessible transport for all?
- How can existing legislation be better enforced to make accessible transport a reality?
- Are operators and local licensing authorities fulfilling their legal obligations to disabled travellers and travellers with other accessibility needs? If not, why not?
- How well do complaints and compensation processes work when things go wrong?
- Are there specific transport modes or kinds of journeys where compliance with legal obligations is especially patchy? Are there differences according to where in the country you are travelling? What difficulties does this cause for travellers with access needs?
- How effective are the relevant regulators at enforcing accessibility in transport? These include the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Office of Rail and Road, Local Licensing Authorities [and the Civil Aviation Authority].
- Do current legal obligations or guidance need to be strengthened?
- What best practices should transport operators be following to improve their performance on access and inclusion for users?
- How effective is the Government’s Inclusive Transport Strategy, and how well does it influence decision-making across transport policy? How could it be improved?
An easy read version of the terms of reference can be found here.