As a disabled person trying to access public transport – what are your thoughts on community transport?
Is it good enough and, more to the point, should it be free?
Well disabled MP Paul Maynard is attempting to introduce legislation to extend free travel concessions in England to disabled people who use community transport services.
The Conservative MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, said extending the concessionary scheme was a matter of “human dignity”.
He makes a good point since the scheme currently provides disabled people and the over 60s with free off-peak travel on local buses and some other forms of public transport.
But the free travel scheme doesn’t usually apply to community transport – such as a dial-a-ride service – because of their mobility impairment.
Mr Maynard told MPs: “To me, that imbalance seems to be not only unfair, but contrary to the spirit of human dignity.”
He added: “I understand that many councils seek to subsidise travel for those who are disabled in various ways. However, not every council does, and with increasing budgetary pressures... I fear that fewer and fewer will.”
This move follows a report by the transport select committee in the summer, which found that most local authorities in England had cut funding for bus services but which backed the government’s commitment to protect free bus travel for older and disabled people.
The report made a point that the concessionary scheme does not apply to most of England’s 1,700 community transport providers, and called for a change in the law.
Now Maynard’s bill would amend the Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007 so that people with “complex mobility problems” who cannot access public transport could use their concessionary passes on community transport services.
However it looks unlikely that this worthy bill will make it into law.
It’s got a lot of support in Parliament and has a second reading in February.
Here’s hoping it gets more publicity because it highlights that disabled people have been denied what others take for granted because of disability or mobility issues.