Thomas Pocklington Trust welcome the launch of the Inclusive Transport Strategy, and the Government’s commitment to making transport more inclusive for all disabled people.

Inclusive transport is critical for blind and partially sighted people to live an independent life, allowing them to participate in their community and access employment. Thomas Pocklington Trust and the Sight Loss Councils, who represent the voice of blind and partially sighted community, welcome the Government’s commitment through the ‘Inclusive Transport Strategy’.

Blind and partially sighted people have often felt like an after-thought regarding the transport network. Infrastructure is often not designed with accessibility in mind. Blind and partially sighted people are often overlooked when providers consult on changes. We welcome a strategy that shows a desire to involve disabled people, and makes several positive proposals, including:

  • Rail Passenger Assistance service level monitoring. This is an important service for blind and partially sighted people across the country.
  • Compensation for failed assistance, however a significant number of journeys are not booked in advance and we would stress the importance of the government taking this into consideration.
  • The new transport ombudsman. We are cautiously optimistic this will improve the confidence of blind and partially sighted travellers. Currently, raising issues with transport providers is often challenging and rarely leads to an improvement in services.
  • Further investment in audio and visual equipment on bus services. This is vital as it enables blind and partially sighted people to travel independently across the bus network. We would stress the importance in ensuring this is tested, as shown by the issues in the roll out of this service in Birmingham
  • Disability training for all transport staff including taxi drivers delivered by people with disabilities. We feel this is vital to ensure that staff understand the needs of blind and partially sighted people and are aware of the challenges people with a disability face when using public transport. This approach has precedent: Sight Loss Council has supported Network West Midlands transport services in producing awareness videos for new staff inductions. These are working very effectively.

Whilst this is a positive strategy, there are a few areas that we believe fall short:

  • The strategy highlights how many train stations that have been made step free (202) and how many have been given induction loops (342). The strategy does not comment on accessibility needs, specifically platform edge tactile paving, over the same period. These are essential for the safety of blind and partially sighted rail travellers.
  • Whilst we are grateful for the recommendation to pause new Shared Space schemes. However, this is just a recommendation and local councils are not required to act. We would welcome a stronger position on this. We would also encourage further comment regarding shared space developments and crucially how they are going to be made safe for blind and partially sighted people.

Emma Hughes, Director for Engagement and Advocacy at Thomas Pocklington Trust , said:

“It is fantastic to see a strategy that has the potential to make a significant impact on the quality of life for blind and partially sighted people. It is crucial that this strategy is delivered on time, and that the Government fulfils its promise to consult blind and partially sighted people throughout the process”

“Thomas Pocklington Trust and Sight Loss Councils are looking forward to working with the Government, both locally and nationally, and transport providers across the UK to ensure this strategy is implemented successfully. Blind and partially sighted people have been calling for many years for a better, more inclusive service on public transport, and we welcome the Government’s decision to finally act”

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Notes to Editors

About Thomas Pocklington Trust

Thomas Pocklington Trust identifies and meets the needs and aspirations of blind and partially sighted people across the UK, by funding and supporting our strategic partners.

About Sight Loss Councils

The Sight Loss Councils are supported by Thomas Pocklington Trust. They act as a voice for blind and partially sighted people living across the UK. Each council is made up of volunteers who themselves are blind or partially sighted, who advocate and campaign to influence change, and to improve the life of blind and partially sighted people.