Bus Services Bill [HL]

Written evidence submitted by Transport for All and Doug Paulley (BSB 28)

1. This is a joint submission from Transport for All and Doug Paulley.

2. Transport for All (TfA) is the organisation of Disabled and older people dedicated to champion the rights of Disabled and older people to travel with freedom and independence.

3. Doug Paulley is a wheelchair user whose recent Supreme Court case regarding access to the priority area on buses highlighted the inadequacies of the current legislation.

The need for Bus accessibility

4. Transport offers a lifeline to inclusion for many Disabled and older people. Ensuring that we have a reliable and diverse range of accessible transport services is essential if we are to boost the number of Disabled people in employment and reduce social isolation.

5. Disabled people are less likely to be able to drive than other transport users and many rail, tube and metro stations are still without step free access. This leaves Disabled transport users heavily reliant on bus services with often severely limited transport options. Therefore, providing Disabled people with reliable access to bus services is absolutely essential.

· Access to Transport is one of the two most common barriers to work for those with impairments

· 18% of Disabled people have had to turn down a job due to inadequate access to transport

· 28% of Disabled people have been unable to undertake training or education

· 48% of Disabled people have missed a hospital appointment

· Disabled transport users disproportionately rely on buses for transport

Paulley vs First Bus

6. All buses are now required to have a wheelchair space available for the use of Disabled people. However, the recent Supreme Court case of Paulley vs First Bus demonstrated a lack of clarity in the law around enforcing access to the space.

· In the recent Supreme Court case of Paulley vs First Bus Lord Toulson stated "By way of postscript, the Court of Appeal made critical comments about the present state of the law in this area. The divisions of opinion in this Court may be thought to reinforce the desirability of it receiving fresh legislative consideration." with Lord Reed expressly agreeing and Lord Neuberger referring to "the advisability of reconsidering the state of the law in this area."

· Ongoing lack of clarity in the law is causing unwanted strain for passengers, drivers and Bus Operating companies who are unclear on how they should respond to the ruling

· Lack of clarity also brings Disabled bus users into conflict with other passengers. This is demonstrated by three cases highlighted by the national media since the Paulley judgement

· The lack of clarity around wheelchair priority in buses is in contrast to the situation on trains where wheelchair users have an automatic right to access a dedicated space while pushchairs and carry cots must be folded

· John Paulley’s petition calling on parliament to strengthen the law around wheelchair priority now has nearly 2000 signatures

The experience of wheelchair users on buses

7. The issue of conflict over wheelchair spaces has wrongly been painted as a rare occurrence. Accessing the wheelchair priority space is a daily struggle for wheelchair and mobility scooter users.

8. Simply waiting for the next bus is not always an option; many bus services run infrequently and could leave wheelchair users stranded for long periods of time. Disabled transport users also have the same time pressures as everyone else, needing to be on time to work, appointments or interviews. The current lack of enforcement powers around wheelchair priority leaves many wheelchair users with extremely inconsistent access to, what is, in many cases, their only possible mode of transport.


9. The amendments submitted to the committee would provide much needed powers to enforce wheelchair user s access to the priority space if an individual is unreasonably occupying it.

10. The reasonability test will ensure that in cases where other bus users genuinely must have access to the space, such as if they have a guide dog, walking frame or a Disabled child in a pram, passengers are not wrongfully required to moved.

March 2017


Prepared 16th March 2017