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Minister launches ten-year plan to improve travel access for disabled people
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf has launched Scotland’s first Accessible Travel Framework at an event in Edinburgh today.
The 10-year blueprint tackles priority issues to improve the accessibility of Scotland’s transport system for disabled people. It will also ensure good work done by transport operators to improve access is supported.
The Framework is a product of a two-year process of partnership working between disabled people, disability organisations, transport operators and government.
Disabled people’s views, ideas and lived experiences have been put at the heart of developing the plan, a key element of which is to make sure disabled people are fully included in future work to improve accessibility and other transport decisions.
Mr Yousaf said:
“It’s important for us to confirm the commitment to making it easier for those with a disability to travel. The actions in this new Framework will help achieve this.
“There’s already a lot going on to make travel in Scotland more accessible for disabled people – such as our commitment to concessionary travel and ensuring accessibility in the design and operation of our rail and ferry franchises – and this Framework will build on that good work.
“One of the big things disabled people have said is that they don’t want just to be consulted as an afterthought about accessibility on transport. This Framework has been developed both for and with disabled people, meaning we’ve put disabled people’s ideas and views at the heart of the process.
“The launch today is just a beginning and throughout the lifecycle of this ten-year plan we will seek to include disabled people at every stage to make their journeys more accessible.”
Disability organisations have welcomed the Framework launch. Jane Horsburgh, Policy Manager for Guide Dogs Scotland said:
“We at Guide Dogs Scotland know only too well how much independence can be limited for sight-impaired people by ineffective decisions, designs and processes.
“The best made decisions are where disabled people are at the core of that complete process. The continued participation of disabled people not only provides a clear message that transport is important, it also illustrates the fruitful advantages of co-production.
“We are honoured to be part of this process and will continue to work alongside disabled people and our colleagues from transport providers, disability organisations and the Scottish Government. Already we are seeing some improvements in our working practices and efficiently getting travel products and information directly to Guide Dog Owners.”
Transport providers in Scotland have been key to the success of Framework development and have welcomed its introduction. George Mair of CPT said:
“CPT Scotland was delighted to participate in the creation of the Accessible Travel Framework. The Framework draws on the expertise and personal experiences of a diverse array of stakeholders and hopefully addresses many of the concerns of those at the sharp end of accessibility issues.
“CPT Scotland’s members remain committed to improving accessibility for all and the Accessible Travel Framework will be of real value in this endeavour.“
Local and regional public bodies have been involved in the Framework’s development. Ranald Robertson, HITRANS on behalf of all seven of Scotland’s Regional Transport Partnerships said:
“The Accessible Travel Framework is an important step in guiding those tasked with commissioning, managing and providing transport services and infrastructure to eliminate the barriers that make travelling difficult for some and as a result prevent participation by everyone in everyday life. A shared understanding of the issues that need to be overcome and a useful tool in how to make travel easier is a very good step forward and the regional transport partnerships are committed to playing our part in supporting the implementation of the framework.”
Three key challenges for the Framework include:
- Changing cultures - to improve attitudes and behaviours, ensuring disabled people’s transport needs are included at the start and not an afterthought.
- Governance - High level actions in the plan need to be prioritised, broken down, assigned for completion, monitored and reviewed.
- Continuous engagement and participation – continuing to listen and talk to disabled people throughout the lifetime of the Framework and beyond.
Some key high-level actions in the plan include:
- Scoping requirements for training with disabled people and transport providers/operators including covering hidden disabilities and basic BSL phrases
- Exploring ways of making disabled people more aware about how they can influence decision-making in transport
- Specifying and agreeing common standards of service for disabled people if their public transport journeys are disrupted
- Producing information about bus layout designs which improve accessibility, identifying specific changes and how they benefit people with different impairments
- Developing a comprehensive source of accessible information about purchasing tickets for a multi-modal journey, including pricing and concessions
- Researching the current content of transport providers’ customer surveys and co-produce a set of standards for surveys and other feedback mechanisms like mystery shopping
1. Relevant figures on accessibility:
• 30% of Scottish non-disabled people used a train in the last month
• 17% of Scottish people with a disability used a train in the last month
• 43% of Scottish non-disabled people used a bus in the last month
• 45% of Scottish people with a disability used a bus in the last month*
2. Nearly 1 in 5 people in Scotland have a long-term activity-limiting health problem or disability. (Scotland’s Census 2011)
3. In 2014, approximately one in ten disabled people in the UK had difficulties getting to a rail, bus or coach station or stop and a similar proportion had difficulties getting on or off these forms of transport. (Opinions and Lifestyle Survey data for the 2014 Fulfilling Potential Outcomes and Indicators Framework)
4. After a lack of job opportunities, difficulty with transport was the most commonly cited barrier to work among UK adults with impairments. (2011 Life Opportunities Survey)
5. Examples of SG spend on transport accessibility:
• By 2019 the Scottish Government will have delivered over £60m investment on rail accessibility in partnership with the Department for Transport in the period from 2006, with more funding for better rolling stock and other improvements
• The Ferries Accessibility Fund which, when match funding is added, is up to £1million.
• The National Concessionary Travel Scheme for Older and Disabled people has a budget for 2016-2017 of £212m.
• Funding is provided by the Scottish Government to the Community Transport Association is £131,000 in 2016-2017 to develop and promote the sector in Scotland.
6. An accessible travel hub has been developed to provide a one-stop shop for information for disabled transport users.
Jenny Miller, Chief Executive of Pamis, said:
“I have really enjoyed the whole process of working on this important piece of work. Having an opportunity to sit around a table with so many different perspectives not only from a disability slant but from the various transport providers has been so valuable. Beautifully facilitated by the Transport Scotland team, we were all given an opportunity to highlight the specific needs of our respective groups of people. For PAMIS an opportunity to talk about the toilets! The fact that there are so few Changing Places toilets highlights that these needs have not been truly considered in the past but were definitely heard and understood during this process.
“Through this group we made contact with the ferry companies both of whom then engaged in considering the development of changing places toilets for their customers. CalMac did an extensive piece of work to ascertain the location of the facilities that could be accessed by customers on their routes. I am not sure that this would have been such a priority if we had not had the opportunity to work together on this group.
“I hope that we will continue to work together to coproduce the outcomes within this strategy. The collective wisdom and passion make it all a possibility!”
CalMac’s Customer Operations Support Manager, Rosalind Robertson said:
“Ferries by the very nature of what we do are one of the most challenging forms of transport for people with reduced mobility so we were delighted to get involved with the Steering Group and the creation of an Accessibility Travel Framework to help improve the travelling experience for people with disabilities.
“Bringing together representatives from a range of travel operators, service users and support groups has allowed us to learn what challenges exist elsewhere and to work together to help people with disabilities get to where they're going easily, whatever mode of transport they choose.'
Layla Theiner, Disability Agenda Scotland, said:
“We welcome the publication of the Accessible Transport Framework. We have appreciated being part of the process for developing the Framework. It has been an effective example of joint working and co-production between the Scottish Government and a number of different organisations.
“We recognise the efforts that have been made by Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government, transport providers, disabled people’s organisations and other groups and charities – to consider the range of issues on different sides and improve accessible transport in Scotland. Transport for disabled people in Scotland could be improved and we hope this document will help achieve that in the coming years.”
Peter Hutchinson, NorthLink Ferries, said:
“Serco continue to be industry leaders in the provision of high quality accessible services for disabled passengers in particular those travelling to and from the Northern Isles with NorthLink Ferries. It was therefore an honour for NorthLink Ferries to assist in the development of Transport Scotland’s Accessible Transport Strategy and subsequently work with disabled organisations, other service providers and members of the Accessible Travel Steering Group to develop the Accessible Travel Framework. NorthLink Ferries will continue to work closely with Transport Scotland and the Accessible Travel Steering Group to embed the specifics of the framework to ensure passengers with any form of disability travelling on-board, receive the highest possible level of service.”