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Your legal rights to accessible transport

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 replaced all previous equality legislation, including the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 (DDA). It protects disabled people in all areas, including transport.

Under the Act, transport providers have the duty to provide an accessible service and make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to offer the same standard of service to disabled people as to non-disabled people. In practice, this means providers have to provide accessible facilities, accessible information and simple procedures for booking assistance where required.

The regulations mean that transport providers:

  • cannot refuse someone or charge them extra because of their disability
  • may refuse disabled people for valid safety reasons
  • must guarantee to accommodate a disabled traveller if notice is given, and must make every effort to help if no notice is given
  • must provide help with moving around the station or terminal, getting on and off, and loading and unloading luggage
  • must provide information in accessible formats
  • must train their staff in disability awareness and specifics such as handling equipment
  • must provide adequate compensation for any lost or damaged equipment
  • must allow registered assistance dogs to travel on buses and coaches

Standards for different types of transport

For travel by sea and waterways:

  • assistance dogs should be allowed, but with regard to national rules
  • if equipment is lost or damaged, the operator should provide temporary replacement
  • large operators must develop and publish quality standards for assistance

Public transport vehicles are covered in a different way. The Equality Act 2010 gave the Government powers to set standards of accessibility for different means of transport. Regulations exist for trains, buses, coaches and taxis.

Travelling with your wheelchair: size matters

Wheelchair accessibility regulations for access to public transport use a specific 'reference wheelchair'. The reference wheelchair has:

  • total length of 1200mm, including extra-long footplates
  • total width of 700mm
  • sitting height (from ground to top of head) of 1350mm
  • height of footrest above floor of 150mm

The reference wheelchair is bigger than most wheelchairs to ensure that enough room is provided for most wheelchair users. However, many mobility scooters and some powered wheelchairs are bigger than the reference wheelchair and may not necessarily fit.

If your wheelchair is no bigger than the reference wheelchair, you should, in theory, be able to use all new public-transport vehicles.

If your wheelchair is bigger, get in touch with the relevant transport operator. Although they are not legally obliged to take you in a larger wheelchair, many companies will make every effort to help.

Travelling with your mobility scooter

All transport operators will accept mobility scooters that can be folded down and carried on as luggage. People who have small scooter models can ride on them on some buses, some trains and some trams. See the appropriate section for details of the size limits and various permit schemes.

The results of our Quick scooter search will give you a list of all scooters that meet the CPT criteria for buses. If you want to specify other features and dimensions, please use our Advanced scooter search.

See also: our plain English guide to the Consumer Rights Act

Last updated: August 2019

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