Comments by MACS on the Island Community Impact Assessment (ICIA) for NTS2 Delivery Plan (October 2021).
We agree that Communities need to be consulted, especially if they are an Island Community, however, it is inappropriate to single out young people as a group who are disadvantaged by poor public transport. Disabled people, irrespective of age or intersectionality, are either unable to access many forms of public transport, or the limited island provision of public transport makes travelling by public transport a challenge or impossible and can lead to exclusion, social isolation and loneliness.
We strongly disagree that participants on a people’s panel is not likely to have an impact on Islands’ infrastructure. Lived experience of disabled people is critical and will greatly inform any development of accessible travel.
We agree with the scoring of this point but would seek to emphasis the life-line services which islanders rely on for medical and social care appointments and the supply of goods to an island. The cancellation of the only daily ferry to an island impacts significantly on the communities’ needs.
We strongly disagree with the score of Neutral/negligible effect. Disabled travellers who live on an Island are significantly affected by lack of accessible transport, be that public transport (ferry, aeroplane, bus (shared) or car travel) Bus services are infrequent and have reduced hours, frequently they don’t coincide with another form of transport allowing multi-mode journeys, they are unreliable and staff don’t have suitable training to assist disabled travellers. There is a heavy reliance on unfunded community and demand responsive transport initiatives pitting the additional financial burdens on individual, community or third sector budgets.
Many disabled travellers rely on their own cars but frequently on an island fuel and general running costs of cars is significantly higher than on the mainland, and owners have to make an expensive ferry journey to have their vehicle serviced. As many disabled people are within the poverty level this has a double impact on them.
Accessible taxis are rare on an island. Arran with a population of over 5000 permanent residents had one accessible taxi.
Many ferry terminals are not accessible, especially the smaller ports/slipways. Guidance of accessibility at ferry terminals is contained in a MACS guidance document.
However, even with this guidance we have seen passengers on major routes wheeled onto a car deck as the gangway is too steep, slipways with no handrails, and no visual only audible travel information for passengers.
MACS welcomes its involvement with the Accessible ferries fund and our continuing work with colleagues on NTS2 steering group and ISG. We support the score in the ICA.
Having read the details of this section we are surprised to see a score of Minor Positive effect. The proposals for a more accessible, sustainable ferry service is key to the travel aspirations of islanders and critical for disabled people who need to access health or social care.
MACS fully supports the scoring of this section of the ICA.
CA1 and 2
Many disabled people rely on their own car for travel and will be affected by moves towards electric vehicles. Consideration also needs to be given to accessible and available charging points as well as the costs for home installation and for charging given the rising energy costs i.e. electricity costs are estimated to rise between 30-50% in 2022.
MACS welcomes the move to low carbon ferries, and would like to take this opportunity to ask that any retrofitting on a ferry includes improvements to accessibility and inclusion. This may, for example include visual and audio information for those that need it to access information.
Macs full response provided by David Hunter, gives a detailed response to this section.
As many disabled people rely on a car or taxi, especially on an Island, the impact of disruption to travel will significantly affect this section of the community. We therefor support the impact score.
Many disabled islanders rely on a ferry service with onward travel by train, so information on rail services is essential to aid planning, especially as a disabled person may not be able to continue and complete the journey by an alternative mode of transport. We therefore believe this should score ‘minor positive’
Macs is concerned about the width and quality of pavements where disabled people either walk or wheel. We would like to see included in this area a recognition of the need to improve and maintain pavements especially on the islands where alternative modes of transport are not available. This would also be of great benefit to their pedestrians including those using buggies, travelling with wheeled luggage etcetera.
MACS and Disabled People’s Organisations (DPO) have highlighted their concern about post Brexit changes to the vaccination requirements for assistance dogs, including guide dogs. This is still under discussion and any change in the current regulations would have a significant effect on people who need their dogs as support during travel.
Unemployment amongst disabled people is higher than amongst non-disabled people. In addition disabled people find it more difficult to travel from an Island to the mainland for education and training, so we welcome this approach, but stress it should include improvements for disabled travellers seeking training. This focus shows a link to disabled people as one of the 6 priority groups in the SG Child Poverty Delivery Plan and to the SG commitment to reducing the disability employment gap.
MACS is keen to support active travel for disabled people, including Island Communities. We would like to see a recommendation that all active travel options include provisions for disabled people.
Therefore bike hire schemes must include bikes suitable for disabled people and bike racks suitable for such bikes.
In addition the condition and width of pavements needs to be improved to allow people in wheelchairs and mobility scooters the opportunity to pursue active travel.
Disabled people (as well as those with other protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010) are frequently more vulnerable from antisocial behaviour and feel their security challenged. On an Island individuals with protected characteristic are often more visible in the community due to the low population on an island. This can have the effect of increasing fear for their security. Current partnership work between Disability Scotland, Calmac and Northlink is concentrating on the Hate Crime charter.