Supporting disabled children, young people and their families: guidance
Guidance to help improve the experiences of disabled children, young people, and their families.
In this section you can find out …
- What can I expect from transport?
- How can I plan my journey?
- Where can I go for help using public transport?
- Bus / coach
- Can I get discounted travel on public transport?
- Can I try out using public transport?
- I can’t use public transport - how else can I travel?
What can I expect from transport?
Under the law transport companies are not allowed to discriminate against disabled people, and they have to make reasonable changes to make it easier for disabled people to travel.
This means you can expect a transport company to give you clear information and help to make your journey successful.
You can also expect the vehicles you travel on to have accessibility features. For example, all buses in Scotland are now low-floor.
How can I plan my journey?
Journeys by public transport or cycling can be planned online using Traveline Scotland.
Their journey planner lets you to plan journeys across the country, and has a number of accessibility features. For example, you can plan a journey at a walking pace that suits you.
Traveline Scotland has a 24 hour travel information helpline on 0871 200 22 33.
Through Traveline Scotland you can get contact details for public transport operators, including phone numbers and websites.
You can also get the Traveline Scotland app. This can give you live travel news and updates when you’re on your journey.
To find information and recommendations about accessible destinations and accommodation, you can find more information at Visit Scotland.
Euan's Guide lets users rate how accessible the places they visit are for disabled people. Visit the site to can see ratings to plan trips.
Where can I go for help using public transport?
Transport providers provide extra help for disabled people. This help is free. In some cases you will need to book in advance.
To make it easier to explain your assistance needs without other people overhearing, you can download the Thistle Assistance Card app to your phone.
To download the App please use the following links for both Apple and Android enabled devices: Apple App Store and Play Store.
Here is an explanation of the extra help you can get on different kinds of transport:
The help you can get
Examples of the kind of assistance you can receive include getting the bus to wait while you sit down and being told by the bus driver when you’ve reached your stop. Bus drivers get training in disability awareness.
Booking assistance in advance isn't necessary, but it’s a good idea to speak to the coach company in advance of longer trips.
Assistance dogs and wheelchairs can be taken on buses and most coaches, but there are size and weight limits for wheelchairs. Talk to the bus or coach company for more information.
In some cases you can also use a mobility scooter; Request a permit from the bus or coach company before you travel.
Contact details for bus and coach companies from can be sourced here Traveline Scotland.
When making a train journey you can get help like having someone to meet you and show you to your train; providing a ramp on and off your train if needed; staff helping you to your seat or the toilet and providing updates while on the train; someone meeting you from your train and providing support to get to your next train or exit and help with luggage. Staff at stations and on trains get training in disability awareness.
If you can’t travel from your nearest train station because it’s inaccessible, let the rail company know. They’ll give free travel (usually a taxi) to the nearest or most convenient accessible station from where you can continue your journey.
You should book Help should be booked in advance, but rail staff will help as much as they can if you don’t book. Depending on the train operator, assistance will need to be booked 24 hours before travelling.
You can take assistance dogs and wheelchairs on trains, but there are size and weight limits for wheelchairs. You can Check your wheelchair is OK when you book assistance.
You can find out more and book assistance at National Rail Enquiries or by calling ScotRail on 0800 912 2901.
Scotrail have a British Sign Language app for customers on Scotland’s railways. The app is designed to allow ScotRail to aid deaf customers in any part of their journey, from information on trains during time of disruption to customer queries at stations or ticket offices.
Customers will sign to an interpreter via the app through a video call, who will then relay the customer query to the member of ScotRail staff. The interpreter will then be able to sign the answer back to the customer. The app is available for download on iOS and android.
When making a ferry journey you can get assistance like having someone meet you and show you to your ferry; helping you get on the ferry; staff helping you to your seat or the toilet; providing you with updates while on the ferry; someone meeting you from the ferry and taking you to the exit; and carrying your bag. Staff at stations and on ferries receive training in disability awareness.
You need to tell the ferry operator as soon as you can that you would like help.
You can take assistance dogs and wheelchairs on trains, but there are size and weight limits for wheelchairs. Check your wheelchair is OK when you book assistance.
Always tell the ferry operator about your needs when booking. This will help if extra help is needed. For example, if you use a motorised wheelchair that is too big or heavy for the passenger areas of the ship (and so might need to stay on the car deck of the ferry), other equipment will be provided to use during the journey.
You can find out more and book assistance through the ferry company. Details of all ferry companies and routes are available through Traveline Scotland.
If you are disabled, free help is available when you fly to and from the UK and Europe, including on domestic flights.
In some cases, you might need to undergo a health assessment before flying.
You can find out more about the rules at Equality and Human Rights Commission: Disability and air travel.
You need to book assistance through the airline. They will make arrangements with the airports concerned.
When making a journey on Edinburgh Trams, you can find out about their accessibility features at Edinburgh Trams or by calling 0131 338 5780.
When making a journey on Glasgow Subway, you can find out about their accessibility features at Subway: Maps & Stations or by calling 0141 332 6811.
Can I get discounted travel on public transport?
You could get free travel on most bus services in Scotland, and In some cases free travel on other public transport services, through the national Concessionary Travel Scheme.
You can contact your local authority or Strathclyde Partnership for Transport to get a National Entitlement Card.
You may be entitled to have a companion travel for free, too, but you will need to provide additional evidence will be needed for this.
More information is available on mygov.scot.
Can I try out using public transport?
If you would like coaching or individual support to access public transport independently, talk to your local council about travel training.
They may be able to organise someone to mentor you making a journey, or give you further information about suitable services.
Transport providers allow you to try their vehicles and services yourself before making a journey. For example, some bus companies will let you try out a bus at a bus station or depot before you go. You can also ask an airport for a tour before a flight. Just contact the transport operator to find out more.
I can’t use public transport - how else can I travel?
You could book transport services.
An example is the MyBus bookable bus service if you live in the Strathclyde area. MyBus will pick you up and drop you off as close as possible to your destination. All vehicles are low-floor and wheelchair friendly. The driver will give help to board the bus from the pavement. If you have a bus pass, travel is free.
Bookable bus services are one kind of community transport. Community transport is a local door-to-door transport service which can carry you if you are unable to use public transport.
You need to book in advance and there may be a charge, but this is normally less than driving or taking a taxi. To find your local community transport service you can search online at the Community Transport Association or contact your local authority.
You can use taxis, or private hire cars. Ask your local council for a list of taxis and private hire companies in your area that provide wheelchair accessible vehicles.
Some local authorities offer concessions on taxis. Taxicards provide scheme members with subsidised taxi fares for pre-booked journeys. You can only make a limited number of Taxicard trips each year. To find out about Taxicard entitlement, contact your local authority.
If you’d like to get an adapted ebike, there’s an interest free loan available. And if a non ebike is more suitable to meet an individual's needs, you might still be eligible for the loan. To find out more contact the Energy Saving Trust..
Details of the National Cycle Network (which includes easy cycle routes) can be found at Sustrans.
If you want to drive and need help getting lessons, the Motability Scheme could help. The scheme enables disabled people to use their mobility allowances to get a new car, powered wheelchair or scooter. Motability may also be able to provide grants to disabled people who would otherwise be unable to afford the vehicle, adaptations or driving lessons they need. For more information visit the Motability website or call 0300 456 4566.
Traffic Scotland provides a travel news service and a 24-hour traffic customer care line on 0800 028 1414, providing details of current road conditions on Scotland’s motorways and trunk roads. You can get a Traffic Scotland app that keeps you up-to-date. Other road problems should be reported to the local authority responsible.
A Blue Badge can help if you need to park closer to where you want to go, but it’s only for people with severe mobility problems. You can apply online at the mygov.scot website.
If you are a badge holder, you can ask that a disabled parking place be created near to your home. Mygov provide information about eligibility criteria or contact the Roads Department in your local authority directly.
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