Disabled groups given opportunity to make transport more accessible

The Transport Accessibility Summit, hosted by Transport Scotland, has been aimed at bringing together interested parties, including local and central government, to discuss a range of key issues raised by disabled people themselves.

It also enabled transport operators across different modes to hear the personal stories behind the issues and to share best practice.

Transport Minister Derek Mackay addressed the audience of over 60 disabled people, their support, disabled groups and transport providers to highlight the need to work together in partnership to make end to end journeys better.

Mr Mackay said

“Transport accessibility is important for everyone but disabled people face particular barriers. Statistics suggest that a non-disabled adult is 50 per cent more likely to make any kind of journey than a disabled adult – that is something we aim to address.

“By hosting this summit, our aim is to enable everyone involved to gain a better understanding of why so many disabled people are put off making journeys and how we can work together to make end to end journeys more accessible.

“Many of the people attending the summit support the statement - ‘nothing about us without us’ - and I will ensure that my Transport Scotland officials strive to make that happen, as well as commending this approach to transport providers in Scotland.

“Disabled people should enjoy the same rights, choice and opportunities to use travel as everyone else. I want a Scotland where disabled people know they can travel in comfort and safety and with the confidence of knowing they will be helped to complete that journey successfully and according to their needs. Today’s summit is a small but a positive step towards that vision.”

In the lead up to the summit Transport Scotland, together with Scottish Disability Equality Forum (SDEF) and other stakeholders, held a series of meetings which raised almost 50 issues for discussion including:

  • making journeys to and from stations much better, this includes train stations, bus stations and ferry terminals;
  • providing accessible toilet facilities like changing places toilets near transport hubs;
  • challenging hate crime on public transport and make sure disabled people know about any breakdowns or changes to travel.
  • offering other accessible transport or help to finish the journey;
  • talking to disabled people about how to change attitudes of staff.

Susan Grasekamp, Chief Executive of, SDEF said:

“The high level of engagement and contribution which the early events enjoyed reinforces how vital accessible transport is to improve quality of life and independent living for disabled people in Scotland.

“The summit has been a great step towards gathering the right people around the table to effect real and positive change in accessible transport, taking into account the vast differences between rural and urban area transport issues in Scotland.

“SDEF and its members are delighted to have been part of these events and we are hopeful that the Accessible Transport Summit marks the beginning of a more collaborative, open and transparent process in the planning, design and implementation of future transport services.”

Keith Lynch, Chair of People First said:

“Barriers to transport can be physical, due to inaccessible provision of information or because of the attitude and approach of society towards people with an intellectual impairment.

“People First welcome the opportunity to work with local authorities, transport providers, and other organisations to improve accessible information and also to raise public awareness of the impact and the seriousness of hate incidents and crime.”

Jenny Miller, Chief Executive PAMIS said:

“We are delighted to be involved in this accessible transport summit – a real partnership venture working with Transport Scotland teams and with transport providers. We really hope that this is the beginning of a new way of working that will enable all people in Scotland to be able to access transport no matter what specific needs they have or where they live.

“People with profound and multiple learning disabilities are some of the most socially excluded people in Scotland, in order for people to travel and access the community there needs to be a network of accessible Changing Places toilets, including at transport hubs.

“Transport Scotland has supported this message with transport providers and PAMIS is already seeing the difference this is making with transport advisors contacting us to find out about how they can provide the right solution.

“We are excited to be involved in the summit and look forward to continued working partnerships as we all pledge to make Scotland’s transport accessible for all.”

Calum Murray, Spinal Injuries Scotland said:

“Spinal Injuries Scotland welcomes the opportunity to participate and influence the debate amongst designers and decision-makers who will be shaping transport accessibility for the years to come.

“The Transport Accessibility Summit provides an opportunity for us to share our views and experience on establishing an efficient and accessible transport network and its role in promoting equality of opportunity and tackling social isolation.

“We look forward to making progress against those issues identified throughout the summit and continuing to work in partnership to remove the hurdles encountered by those with spinal cord injury as they go about their daily lives”.

People with an interest in this subject but not attending the summit can have their say on the SDEF website at http://your-say-on-disability.org.uk/survey/

A report of the summit and a plan of action will be produced later this year and will be taken forward in partnership with disabled people and transport providers.

Notes to editors

Scottish Disability Equality Forum seeks to promote independent living and remove barriers to inequality for those affected by disability in Scotland. It seeks to influence Scottish Government policies which affect how we live and work in Scotland. We do this in collaboration with the Access Panel Network, a Scotland-wide network of volunteers who work to improve access and equality for disabled people within their local communities - www.sdef.org.uk

PAMIS presented an exhibition changing places toilets - the 100th toilet was opened recently at Murrayfield - http://www.changing-places.org/

People First presented a DVD on hate crime and people with learning disabilities - http://peoplefirstscotland.org/

Across Scotland, the Scottish Government is working hard to ensure that public transport is as accessible as possible for disabled people. This work includes liaising closely with the Mobility and Access Committee Scotland, which is doing excellent work to identify where problems exist and make recommendations on how to deal with them.

MACS aims to promote the travel needs of disabled people with transport planners, transport operators and infrastructure providers so that these are taken fully into account in the delivery of services.

Published 24 Mar 2015