HC Deb 04 November 2002 vol 392 c5W
Linda Perham

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what obligations there are on public transport providers to provide access for passengers with disabilities. [79052]

Mr. Jamieson

Part V of the Disability Discrimination Act gives the Secretary of State powers to introduce regulations requiring public transport to be accessible to disabled people, including those who need to travel in a wheelchair. Under these regulations all new trains (including light rail and underground) which have come into service since January 1999 have been required to meet comprehensive accessibility standards. Similar regulations have applied since January 2000 to all new buses with a capacity of over 22 passengers used on local or scheduled service. Some requirements to help ambulant disabled people and those with visual impairment use coaches and smaller buses have also been introduced but full wheelchair access will not be required for these vehicles until January 2005 because of the technical and operational challenges that remain. Regulations, which came into force on 1 October this year, also place obligations on bus drivers and conductors to assist disabled passengers.

Transport infrastructure, including bus and railway stations is covered by Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act which has placed duties on service providers since October 1999 to amend policies or practices which discriminate against disabled people. From October 2004 these duties will extend to the removal of physical harriers to access.