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Accessible Transport: Reference Wheelchair Report

Volume 711: debated on Tuesday 29 March 2022

The Government are committed to ensuring disabled passengers have the same access to transport as everyone else, with assistance if physical infrastructure remains a barrier. We want disabled people to be able to travel confidently, easily and without extra cost.

Today, the Government are taking an important step to help fulfil their commitment in the inclusive transport strategy to review its use of the Reference Wheelchair standard.

The ISO Reference Wheelchair standard is the reference point for a range of vehicle and infrastructure designs used across the transport sector and referred to directly and indirectly in accessibility standards for public transport vehicles and infrastructure.

In 2021, the Government commissioned an assessment of the prevalence, dimensions and uses of wheeled mobility-aids in the United Kingdom in relation to the use of the Reference Wheelchair standard on land-based transport modes.

The findings of this assessment estimate that the current Reference Wheelchair standard accommodates 60% of wheelchairs, and 54% of wheeled mobility-aids. However, this does not necessarily mean that the current standards are inadequate, and there will be trade-offs between making transport more inclusive for all passengers by setting more stringent standards that accommodate larger wheelchairs, and the practicalities for transport operators to accommodate larger and more diverse mobility-aids within conventionally sized public transport vehicles.

However, these findings will be used to help form the broader evidence base to determine the design of future vehicles and transport infrastructure to meet mobility-aid users’ needs. In particular, we intend to use these findings to inform the forthcoming review of the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations 2000, which we expect to conclude by the end of 2023.