New wheelchair access measures to be introduced

New measures to ensure that wheelchair users can safely access onboard wheelchair spaces on buses will be introduced by the government.

The DfT announced it will begin developing proposals to ensure wheelchair users can access buses and that drivers can fulfil the duties given to them by the courts. This follows a Supreme Court judgment in January 2017 in the case of Paulley vs FirstGroup Plc. The ruling concerned the “reasonable adjustments” which must be provided by bus operators to enable wheelchair users to access the onboard wheelchair space. It was a high-profile case and earned much media coverage. It followed an incident on a FirstGroup bus that saw wheelchair user Doug Paulley left at a bus stop in Leeds, unable to board his bus because a mother refused to move her pushchair from the designated area when asked by the driver.

The Supreme Court judgment states that FirstGroup’s policy with regard to use of the wheelchair space was insufficient to meet the requirements of the Equality Act 2010, and that bus drivers should be required to do more than simply request a person vacates the wheelchair space, including suspending the journey if needed.

Transport Minister, Nusrat Ghani, said: “Passengers with disabilities must have the same opportunities to travel as other members of society, and it is essential that the services they rely on are accessible and work for them. Where people live, shop, go out, or park their car should not be determined by their disability and accessible transport networks are vital if we are to support those with disabilities to live independent lives and fulfil their potential.”

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