All public transport vehicles have to be "accessible" to avoid causing difficulty for disabled passengers. Public transport vehicles also have to accept guide dogs or assistance dogs.
However, if you are using public transport, it’s worth contacting the transport operator before you travel to make sure they are able to offer the assistance you require. By law, all public transport buses will have to meet specific disability standards by 2017.
Buses and trains will usually have priority seating for older people and people with disabilities. They will also usually have space and wide doors for wheelchairs. Some buses, trains and trams are fitted with automatic ramps, but many still require assistance or ramps to be manually fitted by station staff or the driver.
The London Underground is being upgraded to improve step-free access, but large parts will remain largely inaccessible to people with mobility problems for the foreseeable future. Staff at Underground stations are trained to help assist people move around the underground system – for example, by helping you avoid escalators and calling ahead to arrange for assistance at your destination.
Discounts on public transport for older people and disabled people
Older people and people with disabilities can travel free on local buses anywhere in England between 9.30am and 11pm Monday to Friday, and at any time during the weekend and on bank holidays. Some authorities offer free travel for longer periods, and some allow a companion to travel with the pass holder for free.
You may have to apply through your local authority, but in most areas you can apply online for an older person’s bus pass or for a disabled person’s bus pass. You can get a bus pass that allows you to travel for free at any time of day, and in London a Freedom Pass will let you travel for free on most forms of public transport. Some services, such as London’s trams, will let wheelchair users travel for free without a pass.
If you regularly travel by train, it’s probably worth getting a Disabled Person’s Railcard, giving you a third off the price of rail tickets. Check the eligibility criteria to see if you are eligible for a Disabled Railcard Card. Children aged five to 16 with disabilities are eligible for a Disabled Person's Railcard, allowing an adult to travel with them for a third of the cost of an adult fare, while the child pays the normal child fare.
Taxi and private hire companies can provide wheelchair-accessible vehicles if you let them know when you book a vehicle. Some councils also offer taxi voucher schemes for those who may find it difficult to use public transport, because they are frail or disabled.
Updated October 2019