Research Support for the 2015 Transport Accessibility Summit

1 Introduction

About this report

1.1 This report sets out findings from the Transport Accessibility Summit, which took place in Edinburgh on 24 March 2015. The day comprised of small group discussions as well as case study talks from disabled people who use transport and short informative talks from transport providers. Transport Scotland commissioned Research Scotland to undertake a short evidence review, assist with the facilitation of the day and to write a report of the day. The report findings will help inform future discussions and consultation on the issue of Accessible Travel in Scotland.

Research Context

1.2 Accessible transport is a key priority for disabled people in Scotland. In producing its equality outcomes, the Scottish Government undertook an evidence review[1] of issues affecting people who share each of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. The evidence review on disability highlighted that transport was a key issue. It found that:

  • There are lower rates of driving among disabled drivers compared to non-disabled drivers. Cost was a common barrier, and almost a third of disabled adults reported health conditions as a barrier to using motor vehicles.
  • Adults with a disability or long term illness were more likely to use a local bus service than non-disabled adults. Approximately a third of disabled adults said that they experienced difficulty using local buses – with problems around availability, cost, difficulty getting in and out of transport, difficulty getting to and from the stop or station, and anxiety or lack of confidence.
  • Approximately a quarter of disabled adults reported difficulty using taxis, with cost being by far the most common barrier.
  • Many disabled people felt that rail travel was inaccessible, due to issues with physical accessibility and staff attitudes and training.

1.3 Consultation on the Scottish Government's National Transport Strategy found that passengers with physical and learning disabilities experienced a range of issues, including barriers around the need for better staff training; the need for more flexibility around meeting individual needs; and concerns about safety and vulnerability. As part of this consultation, many people with learning difficulties highlighted the potential positive aspects of transport and travel – but some still highlighted that using public transport could be difficult, confusing, scary and chaotic.

1.4 More recently, engagement with disabled people including consultation to inform the Scottish Government's draft disability delivery plan which is being developed in response to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD)[2] also strongly featured accessible transport issues. Four themes were chosen under which to divide these issues raised for further discussion:

  • information and assistance – including getting information in accessible formats in advance of and during journeys, particularly when things go wrong;
  • training and customer service – including staff attitudes, consistency in service and user involvement in service development;
  • connectivity and physical improvements – including links between different modes of transport; and
  • deliverability – including affordability, safety, comfort, accessibility and availability.

1.5 In recognition of the need to find out directly from disabled people how these issues affected them and to get that information straight to transport providers and local and central government, Transport Scotland hosted a Scottish Transport Accessibility Summit on 24 March 2015. It involved Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs) and transport providers, with approximately 60 disabled people invited to attend via their representative organisations. The Summit was co-produced with key stakeholders, to ensure maximum involvement and ownership of the event.

Aims and Objectives

1.6 The overall aim of the day was to ensure that all the participants felt they had a chance to have a say and were involved in the discussions. This was not an end point but a key public milestone in identifying, discussing, actioning and monitoring the things which would give disabled people the same opportunities to travel as anyone else.