First access plan for Scotland identifies seven objectives and makes 89 proposals
A draft strategy to make Scotland’s transport network fully accessible for disabled people has been drawn up by an alliance of transport users, planners and operators.
The Scottish Accessible Transport Alliance (SATA), which consists of 80 members, has outlined five main areas that must be improved so everyone can have the best possible opportunity to travel and access the services or facilities they need.
The report, Accessible Transport Strategy and Action Plan for Scotland, points to physical barriers preventing people from being able to travel, as well as there not being enough services available – some of which are too costly.
There will be some financial implications – which will be a huge challenging to meet in times of budget cuts – but providing equality of opportunity should be of the highest priority
The full plan, available on the charity's website, identifies seven objectives and has made a list of 89 actions to achieve them.
These include consulting with disabled people in the early stage in the development of transport policies and projects, ensuring a higher proportion of buses and taxis are accessible, providing information such as timetables in a range of accessibility formats and creating a range of travel concessions for disabled people throughout Scotland.
Alan Rees of SATA said improvements have been made since the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 was introduced but considerable inequalities in transport provision and access to services by older and disabled people remain.
“Public transport in many rural areas is scarce or non-existent,” he said.
“Those without use of a car, or someone to give them lifts, are lucky if there is a local voluntary transport scheme.
“Too many vehicles are still inaccessible to wheelchair and scooter users and the lack of on-board audio and visual information presents difficulties for people who are deaf or blind. Basic information on services is often not provided in suitable formats.
“There are fare concessions on buses and trains; in a few areas on taxis too. But people with learning disabilities are not eligible for the free bus concession scheme unless they have another impairment, while the balance to be paid on discounted train and taxi fares is increasingly unaffordable by those on low incomes.”
The strategy, which covers the period 2015-20, is the first such access plan for Scotland and follows the mould of similar plans which have been created throughout the rest of the UK.
SATA is inviting transport planners and service providers in Scotland to respond and come behind the plan.
This includes the Scottish Government and local authorities who can, it says, play a large part in bringing about the needed improvements.
It also welcomes the views of transport users and those currently unable to access transport.
Rees continued: “To make further progress, an overall sense of direction and plan of action is vital.
“There will be some financial implications – which will be a huge challenging to meet in times of budget cuts – but providing equality of opportunity should be of the highest priority. And many things will cost little or nothing.
“The Scottish Government does need to take the lead. But the core aim of this SATA initiative is to get as many people and agencies as possible on board. If that can be achieved it will be a major step forward.”
The consultation will run until 16 January 2015. A response form is on the SATA website.