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Publications:
Attitudes of Disabled People to Public Transport - Research Study 2001


How can disabled people be encouraged to use transport more?

  • There are many things that providers of public transport services can do to encourage disabled people to use buses and trains more
  • For greater taxi/minicab use, the key improvement is reducing fares
  • Half of disabled people say they would go out more if the conditions for walking were better
  • Improvements in public transport would have a positive impact on the lives of many disabled people

Improvements to encourage greater bus use

Respondents were asked what would have to improve in order to encourage them to use buses more.

Top of the list is frequency, spontaneously mentioned by 15% of disabled people. Also important are accessibility (12%), lower fares (10%), friendlier and more helpful staff (10%) and more lower floors/steps level with pavement. Five per cent say that nothing needs to be improved, and a quarter say that nothing would make them use buses more.

Q16. What, if anything, would have to improve for you to consider using buses more?

Q17. What, if anything, would have to improve for you to consider using rail services more?

Younger people (aged 16-34) are particularly concerned about service frequency, with 38% spontaneously saying they would travel more by bus if this aspect was improved. They are also more likely than older ages groups to feel that staff need to improve their attitudes (26%). Overall, younger disabled people are significantly more likely to travel more by buses if any improvements are made (77% mention at least one aspect compared with 65% of disabled people overall).

Improvements to encourage greater rail use

The most important aspect of rail services that needs improving is lowering fares (10%). This is followed by accessibility (8%) and local railway stations being closer to where disabled people live (5%). Five per cent say nothing needs to be improved and 44% say that no improvements would make them use services more.

Younger disabled people (aged 16-34) are also more likely to use rail services more if improvements are made. Lowering fares (20%) and more announcements/information (11%) would particularly attract them. Also important to them - and disabled people as a whole - is improving accessibility.

Improvements to encourage greater taxi/minicab use

It is by no surprise that lower fares would encourage greater taxi/minicab use (spontaneously mentioned by 13% of disabled people). Eighteen per cent of respondents say that nothing needs to be improved, and a further 38% say nothing would make them use taxi/minicabs more.

If improvements to taxi/minicab services were made, 35-59 year olds, wheelchair users and people in London are more likely than other groups to use this mode more. Apart from cost, friendly/more helpful drivers, better seating and improved security/safety would attract wheelchair users. Those in London are more likely to mention that improved reliability as the key to encouraging more use.

Improved Walking Conditions

Half (48%) of disabled people say they would go out more if the conditions for walking were better. This is particularly true of those aged 45-59 (59%), people with visual impairments (54%) and various users of transport modes (such as ferries and light rail/tram/Underground). Particularly striking is the variation in attitudes by location - 57% of Londoners say they agree with the statement, compared with 44% of those in other urban areas and 49% in rural localities.

The Impact of Improved Transport Services

Around half (46%) of disabled people say improvements in public transport would have a positive impact on their life. This is particularly true of those under 45 years old and Londoners. Wheelchair users and visually impaired people are also more likely to agree than other groups.

Forty per cent say they are fearful of travelling by public transport; though slightly more (47%) disagree. Wheelchair users are most fearful (51%).

Overall, there is a higher fear of personal safety among disabled people while travelling than the general public and there is more social exclusion where public transport services are considered poor.

Q6. Improvements to public transport would have a positive impact on my social life

Q6. I am fearful of travelling by public transport