SRA recently attended the ‘Access to Transport in Rural Areas for Disabled People’ event in Stirling. The event was held in partnership between Disability Equality Scotland and Transport Scotland. The event brought together a variety of stakeholders, including transport providers and people with disabilities to discuss key transport issues in rural areas and identify what needs to change.
Emma Scott from Disability Equality Scotland (DES) began the event by presenting the work that DES is taking forward – some of the actions from the Accessible Travel Framework. This includes engaging and consulting with disabled people on their experiences of using public transport. DES launched a national survey in May 2017, capturing the views of 200 disabled people on a number of issues. Transport in rural areas was highlighted as a common concern, and as such, DES launched a second, more focussed survey on this topic. Emma talked through the results of this survey, which had gathered the views of 113 disabled people.
Frequency of service, accessibility of vehicles and routes to bus stops, connectivity between transport providers and lack of accessible information were all discussed by the attendees. The issue of accessible information is compounded by an often poor or non-existent broadband and / or mobile signal.
The cost and availability of community transport options was also discussed at length – community transport can offer a bespoke service to many people living rurally who have a disability, however, with cost increases to the service and lack of disposable income for many individuals this is not a suitable option.
The event highlighted that a lack of suitable transport in rural areas impacted greatly on disabled and other vulnerable groups to take part in shopping, healthcare and socialising.
The event summarised that transport providers in rural areas should be more proactive in seeking the views of people with disabilities and should be involved in the design and development of services. Training should be delivered to transport providers and drivers and that rural areas have equal access to journey planning sites and live updates (digital connectivity).
A full write up of the event can be found by clicking here.