Last reviewed 15 February 2021

An independent expert committee, established by the Transport Act 1985, has warned the “for-hire" coach sector that it is out of step with the rest of the transport industry in its reluctance to meet the needs of disabled passengers.

The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) said that it was pleased when the Public Service Vehicle Access Regulations (PSVAR) were extended to cover coaches, especially as the main providers of scheduled services moved quite rapidly to use compliant vehicles.

“It was our hope that once these coaches had reached the end of their life in providing scheduled services,” DPTAC commented, “they would enter the second-hand market and contribute to wider accessibility in the overall coach market.”

However, this appears not to have been the case. In a number of instances, DPTAC notes, accessibility features required for PSVAR compliance have been removed when vehicles are no longer used on scheduled services.

The organisation highlights data gathered by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) which shows that there are only 600 PSVAR compliant coaches available in the “for-hire” sector out of more than 25,000 vehicles currently in commercial use.

For a variety of reasons relating to the economics of the industry, DPTAC argues, as well as the lack of regulatory pressure, the industry appears to have made no significant effort to improve accessibility.

Government intervention is now essential to drive change, it insists.

In a note available — here — DPTAC sets out alternative design options for an accessible coach and underlines the importance of accessible and inclusive home to school transport services.