Transport for nearly everyone

imagesP4A0A6P6In 2010 the Labour Government introduced the Equality Act, drawing together various strands of equalities legislation, some dating back to 1970. One of the ironies of these various laws was that in removing obstacles for discriminated groups, in some cases the impact has been to create a hierarchy of disadvantage and discrimination in the thinking of policy makers even though this is contrary to the letter and spirit of the Law. At the beginning of the New Year, another milestone was passed in terms of giving full access to public transport to all citizens. The Public Service Vehicle Access Regulations (PSVAR) 2000 demands that all single decker buses have accessibility standards including a wheelchair bay; a wheelchair ramp or other boarding device, and priority seating. Yet it has taken 16 years for these regulations to turn into a powerful enough mechanism, so that from 1st January 2016 it is now a criminal offence for a bus not to comply with these access regulations. However this law does not impact on double decker buses until next January and won’t apply to coaches until 2020. Despite all of these great advances, a deplorable omission is that there is still no requirement for buses to provide travellers with audio-visual information and so buses may still not be fully accessible for visually impaired and hard-of-hearing people for years to come. It is disappointing that this is the case as it is vital that all buses in the country are accessible to all of us. Of course a lack of legislation does not prevent bus operators from being proactive, but we need to ensure that all travellers are treated with equal respect. It is time for the law that enforces the PSVAR 2000 to also enforce the need for buses to include visual and sound systems that can be heard and seen by as many people as possible. This means loop systems on the bus as well as speakers and buzzers and the various visual displays that can be fitted. This is not just an issue of equality, according to the Guide Dogs for the Blind Society, two thirds (65%) of blind and partially sighted bus passengers have missed their stop in the last six months.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Deaf & Hard of Hearing, Parliament and Democracy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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