asked the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made by his Department in the encouragement of design and manufacture of acceptable vehicles for the disabled.
[pursuant to his reply, 18 November 1981, c. 173]: The Department has been working closely with vehicle manufacturers and transport operators to promote the design and manufacture of vehicles which are more easily accessible to people suffering from a wide range of disabilities.Bus design is one of the areas being looked at in a survey of the use of the bus system by disabled people which my Department are carrying out jointly with Leyland Vehicles. The survey should provide valuable information of the direct practical use about the difficulties that disabled people face in travelling by bus.The Department has also recently issued for consultation a draft code of practice on the carriage of passengers in wheelchairs in public service vehicles. In its final form the code will give guidance to vehicle manufacturers, transport operators and certifying officers on the construction and operation of vehicles which have been built or adapted to carry wheelchairs. Efforts are also being made to simplify the requirements governing the fitting of tail lifts to carry wheelchair passengers on minibuses. An amendment to the Minibus Conditions of Fitness, Equipment and Use Regulations was laid on 17 November.Following from the Department's "Transport Without Handicap" conference held in March, a number of operators—national, municipal and private—have been carrying out adaptions to buses and coaches to accommodate wheelchair passengers.
The Department has also been working closely with the manufacturers of the London style taxi to modify the new model—due to go into production in 1983—to accommodate wheelchair passengers as a standard feature.
In this field of personal mobility for disabled people my Department is working with the Department of Health and Social Security on a code of practice covering the safe conversion of cars for disabled people. The Department is also discussing with the disabled motoring organisations and others the possibility of making test track facilities at the transport and road research laboratory available to disabled drivers to assess new vehicles and the adaptions required by individuals.