Last reviewed 28 July 2021

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (DfT), Baroness Vere, has written to a number of trade bodies setting out the Government’s immediate and longer-term approach to the application of the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) 2000.

The letter, available — here, notes the Department’s previous deep dissatisfaction at operators’ continued failure to comply with PSVAR in the home-to-school (HTS) and rail replacement (RR) sectors.

“The Regulations have revolutionised disabled people’s access to local buses and long-distance coaches,” Baroness Vere said, “but it is unacceptable that, two decades after their introduction, a lack of compliant coaches continues to prevent disabled school pupils and railway passengers from travelling on the same services as non-disabled people.”

Local authorities, schools, colleges and transport operators must now focus on how they can provide services inclusively rather than seeking to avoid their legal obligations, she continued.

Baroness Vere has asked the DfT to develop plans for medium-term exemptions that will begin in 2022 and only be available to operators that can demonstrate the steps they have taken proactively to provide compliant services.

“While eligibility rules will be communicated in due course, and subject to consultation, I have asked my officials to explore only providing exemptions for the wheelchair requirements (Schedule 1 of the Regulations) and not for steps, gangways, handrails, etc (Schedule 3), unless some of the requirements in Schedule 3 cannot reasonably be complied with in the time available,” the letter explains.

It concludes with a request for industry bodies to share details of the letter with their members and to continue to work with the DfT to provide transport that enables access and promotes independence.