A new cross-party parliamentary report has criticised the ‘inadequate’ legislation around access to transport for disabled people and those with restricted mobility. A news article on the Parliament UK website reports that the Transport Committee made the observation as part of its inquiry into the issue, which has recently been published.  

Overall, 72 organisations and individuals were asked to submit evidence to the inquiry. These included Wheels for Wellbeing, Transport for All, and the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety. The report found that despite existing regulations, many disabled people regularly experienced problems when attempting to use public transport.

The report also highlighted outdated regulations that didn’t reflect modern infrastructure, and many instances of where the Equality Act was breached. The final version of the report is due to be released shortly. 

Transport Committee Chair Iain Stewart MP said: “The huge amount of written evidence we received on accessible transport has made it clear that current legislation doesn’t do enough to support disabled people who need to safely use buses, trains or even pavements to get around and live their lives.”

“Many people are denied the ability to travel as easily as they should and end up avoiding going out altogether, causing them to miss out on socialising and work opportunities.”

“The evidence has also shown the importance of our inquiry investigating legal obligations and enforcement of accessible transport legislation. Currently, the enforcement of accessibility rules and laws is inadequate, and passengers shouldn’t shoulder the expensive and stressful burden of bringing court action against operators when they are mistreated.”

The BBC reports that it is now over a quarter of a century since the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) was first introduced in 1995 to give disabled people more legal rights. In 2010, the DDA and other relevant pieces of legislation were amalgamated into a single piece of legislation known as the Equality Act 2010.

Before 1995, it is shocking to consider that disabled people did not enjoy full civil rights, nor the same legal protections as some other minority groups. It took years of sometimes dramatic campaigning for equal rights in all areas of life, including jobs, healthcare, and full access to public transport and other public places such as libraries and shops. 

However, there was no body with the power to ensure that the new laws were being enforced, and some employers and transport providers were simply able to ignore them. The situation began to change with the introduction of the Disability Rights Commission in 1999. 

Unfortunately, despite decades of vigilance by disability rights campaigners, the battle is far from over when it comes to parity of experience for disabled users of public transport. It is hoped that the final results of the Transport Committee inquiry will be acted on swiftly and comprehensively. 

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