NW TUC Disability Forum: Transport Issues

Issue date
01 Jul 2009
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NW TUC Disability Forum: Information Bulletin

Transport Issues

At the last meeting of the NW TUC Disability Forum a number of items on transport were reported on and it was felt that further information should be circulated to all Forum members and placed on the NW TUC web site.

Transport for London: Travel Mentoring Service

The Travel Mentoring Service offers support to disabled Londoners who want to broaden their horizons and make use of the many mainstream accessible public transport options now available.

We can offer advice on planning a journey using an accessible route and we can provide a mentor to come with you for your first few journeys to help you gain confidence and become an independent traveller. Mentoring is free of charge and can be provided Monday-Friday from 08:00-18:00.

The NW TUC has written to transport authorities in the North West to see if similar schemes

Mobility Scooters on trains

The train operator Northern Rail recently announced that it was lifting it's total ban on mobility scooters, and will carry ones that are of standard size (120cm by 67cm) or the type that can be folded and carried on board the train.

Northern Rail said: 'This is because we operate several different types of trains and our services call at over 500 stations, so we cannot guarantee to have a standard incline in all boarding ramps. The centre of gravity of mobility scooters greatly increases the risk of the vehicle and its owner toppling backwards on boarding ramps.

"In addition, because scooters are steered by handlebars they have limited manoeuvrability and may not always be easily driven into the wheelchair space on a train. It is possible that a scooter parked in a doorway or vestibule could block the evacuation of passengers, creating an unacceptable risk to the user and other passengers.

"We will continue to review our policy on a regular basis to take account of any future developments in either our train fleet or mobility scooter design." 20 June

The position on other operators is:

West Midlands Metro: Scooters are not allowed within byelaws due to scooter design, difficulty in manoeuvring and unsuitability for use in a vehicle.

Manchester MetroLink: Mobility scooters are not permitted, though electric wheelchairs are.

Sheffield Supertram: Discourages mobility scooter use on trams.

Virgin trains: will carry scooters that are up to 700mm wide x 1200mm long with a triangular

footprint, or which are capable of being folded and carried as luggage

Bus Pass rules 'clarified'

On 1 April 2009 the rules about the services on which concessionary bus passes were 'clarified'. Passes can be used on all local bus services in England but, as a general rule, not on the following types of non-standard service:

services where most seats can be reserved (eg coaches)

temporary services running for less than six weeks (eg shuttle buses to special events)

tourist services or services on vehicles of historical interest (eg open-top bus tours)

rail replacement services

services where 'extras' (eg refreshments or car parking) are included in the fare

There is a separate half-price coach concession for older and disabled people that many coach operators participate in. For more information please contact the coach company directly.

For detailed information on the changes to bus concessions see the following link:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/regional/buses/concessionary/informationlocalauthorities/eligibleservices/servicechanges

Commenting on the changes Mervyn Cohler, of Help the Aged, said: "We want old age pensioners to have access to this service but the legislation is not capable of delivering that because we have not got the mechanism to allow provision to give compensation for bus companies to carry free passengers.'

"We will fight for the government to provide it. Isolation and loneliness in our pensioner population is substantial and damaging.We want to encourage them to get out and have a life and not be stuck in their own homes."

Meanwhile, the Department for Transport spokeswoman said the free bus pass was "always intended for use on local bus services".

"Following a full public consultation, these changes will clarify which types of service are outside of the spirit of the national concession, reducing potential for any confusion over whether a service is eligible - e.g. tourist and sightseeing buses and rail replacement services," she said. However, she added that local authorities could still offer concessionary travel on any service affected by the changes on a discretionary basis.

The overall scheme has been criticised by bus operators who claim they are not receiving sufficient compensation from local authorities, some have in turn complained that they do not receive sufficient funding from central government.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/apr/26/transport-over-60s

The Government is currently consulting on some changes to the way the scheme.