This briefing highlights opportunities to improve the accessibility of public transport for disabled people in the Bus Services Bill. Disabled people’s ability to participate in hugely important aspects of life that most of us take for granted, such as work, education and social life, can be dependent on their ability to use public transport. These issues are, therefore, of the utmost importance.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) sets out what human rights mean specifically for disabled people. By ratifying CRPD in 2009, the UK took on binding obligations under international law to ensure that disabled people enjoy those rights in practice. ‘Accessibility’ is a General Principle in the Convention, and Article 9 requires State Parties to take appropriate measures to ensure that disabled people have access to transport on an equal basis with others.
A recent court case has highlighted a lack of clarity in the rules regulating the use of spaces on public buses which are provided for wheelchair users (“designated spaces”). On 18 January 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that bus companies must end ‘first come, first served’ policies in relation to these spaces, and do more to give priority to wheelchair users. The Bus Services Bill provides a timely opportunity to provide legal clarity that a wheelchair user has priority use of the designated space.
Last updated: 24 Feb 2017