Enable more disabled people in Scotland to use buses by working towards fully accessible information, infrastructure and design
Bus is the most widely used form of public transport, accounting for 73% of Scotland’s public transport journeys in 2019/20 and is disproportionately relied upon by individuals from low income areas. Of all bus journeys made in 2019/20, 38% were made under the National Concessionary Travel Scheme for older and disabled people. In 2019, 3% of adults travelled to work by bike and 12% walked or wheeled to work.
Demand has been higher for bus during the pandemic than for any other land based public transport mode, allowing people to access essential jobs/services, while rates of walking, cycling and wheeling increased from pre COVID-19 levels.
In 2018 the UK Government consulted publicly on plans to require the provision of audible and visible information on board local bus and coach services across Great Britain. This included the holding of events to understand the perspective of stakeholders in Scotland (Edinburgh and Aberdeen). Responding to the consultation has taken longer than anticipated, however the UK Government remains committed to increasing the provision of accessible information across local bus and coach networks, and hope to respond formally to the consultation, including confirming next steps, in the near future. Recently the UK Government announced its intention, subject to final analysis, to make regulations by Summer 2023 requiring the provision of audible and visible information on board local bus services across the UK.
In the meantime, the Department for Transport continue to encourage operators not to wait for regulations to be made before providing accessible information on board their vehicles, and are grateful to those that now specify such provision as a standard feature of new vehicles.
Bus operators in Scotland continue to introduce new accessibility features such as low-floors and real time trackers that feed into both on-street real time information screens and mobile apps, which allow users’ access to the most up to date information available.
In 2020 we launched the Bus Partnership Fund as part of our response to the climate emergency. The Fund will support mode shift from cars to bus, as part of over £500 million of long-term bus priority infrastructure funding to tackle the negative effects of congestion on bus, so that bus journeys are quicker, more punctual and reliable.
Key Actions for 2021 – 2022
In order to fulfil this objective Transport Scotland will:
- Work with delivery partners, including local government, to deliver commitments to extend free bus travel to under 19s and under 22s.
- Continue to work closely with the UK Government on their review of the Public Sector Vehicles Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) following their commitment to do so by the end of 2023.
- Undertake a consultation to help inform the development of regulations and guidance of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 to enable Local Transport Authorities to provide bus services tailored to the specific needs of local communities. The consultation will also explore requirements for any provisions made in respect of Bus Service Improvement Partnership (BSIPs) plans and schemes service standards and associated guidance. This includes considering the accessibility of bus services for disabled persons and persons with limited mobility.