Disabled People

Transport written question – answered on 16th May 2006.

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Photo of Tom Levitt Tom Levitt PPS (Rt Hon Hilary Benn, Secretary of State), Department for International Development

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on his Department's progress in fulfilling its statutory obligation as a public body of promoting the rights of disabled people.

Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 placed new duties on public authorities to promote equality for disabled people, 'the Disability Equality Duty'.

The Department for Transport is currently assessing its policies in accordance with the duty and the results of this exercise will be included in its Disability Equality Scheme (DES). The DES will set out how the Department intends to meet its duty to promote disability equality including the arrangements in place to assess the impact of its activities together with an action plan outlining how it intends to improve outcomes for disabled people.

The Department for Transport is committed to an accessible public transport system in which disabled people have the same opportunities to travel as other members of society.

A great deal has already been achieved in this area. For example, we have introduced regulations under part 5 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA 1995) making all new rail vehicles, buses and coaches accessible. Over 4,400 compliant rail vehicles are already in service and almost half the bus fleet is accessible. These improvements have already had a significant impact on the day-to-day mobility of disabled people.

We are also implementing the transport provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 2005. The new Act contains measures amending the rail vehicle accessibility regime and will extend part 3 of the DDA 1995 (which deals with access to goods and services) to the operators of all land-based public transport, vehicle hire and breakdown services from 4 December 2006.

Transport infrastructure, such as stations and airports, is already covered by these provisions which require service providers to remove obstacles that mean disabled people find it impossible or unreasonably difficult to access services. Policy initiatives, such as the recently announced "Access for All" fund (a £370 million ring-fenced resource available to improve access to railway stations) will provide further improvements.

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