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Public Transport: Coronavirus

Department for Transport written question – answered on 29th June 2020.

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Photo of Robert Largan Robert Largan Conservative, High Peak

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to help local authorities to ensure that visually impaired people are able to safely access public transport, in the context of social distancing requirements.

Photo of Chris Heaton-Harris Chris Heaton-Harris Minister of State (Department for Transport)

The Government remains as committed to delivering inclusive transport for all passengers as they were before the COVID-19 pandemic. We have made clear to local authorities that the Public Sector Equality Duty still applies and that they must continue to consider the needs of disabled people.

Our expectation is that transport operators should continue to assist disabled passengers who need assistance, including those with sight loss. I made this clear in my open letter to the rail industry on 8 April 2020.

I am also meeting regularly with key disability stakeholders, including Guide Dogs, to hear directly from them about the experiences of disabled people using transport. This means we will be able to take action quickly if we find that passengers are not receiving the assistance to which they are entitled.

An accessible public realm is vital to enabling disabled people to access public transport. On 9 May the Department published statutory guidance to local authorities on reallocating road space which makes clear that authorities must consider the needs of disabled people and those with other protected characteristics when making changes to their transport networks. Public Sector Equality Duty requirements apply to temporary measures as they do to permanent ones.

Further, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published guidance for the owners and operators of urban centres to help social distancing, including at transport hubs.

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