Crippen discovers that the transport industry has had yet another exemption from access laws!

It’s got to the stage where when this government hacks off yet another piece of disability related legislation, there’s not even a tokenistic acknowledgement, never mind any form of protest from opposition parties and those groups and organisations that claim to represent us.

In fact, it takes a single disabled activist to put their head over the parapet once again to continue a challenge they started over a year ago.

It concerns the transport industry and their continued use of inaccessible vehicles as a rail replacement service despite very specific legislation that prohibits this, namely The Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) 2000.

Back in 2019 disabled activist Doug Paulley forced the rail regulator to take legal advice on whether rail replacement vehicles had to be accessible to disabled people. The resulting advice from the Office of Rail and Road stated that, with a few minor exceptions, all rail replacement vehicles must be accessible, and the train companies, and their bus or coach providers, were at risk of criminal prosecution if they were not.

On 30th December 2020, a letter from transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris allowed the transport industry its fourth temporary exemption from access laws, allowing it to continue to use inaccessible vehicles for rail replacement services for another nine months.

It will mean train operating companies (TOCs) will still be allowed to use older buses and coaches for rail replacement purposes until the end of September 2021, even if those vehicles do not comply with current legislation.

Speaking to the Disability News Service (DNS), Doug said that he was “unsurprised” by the latest exemption and that he viewed the latest announcement of another exemption with “a sort of weary fatalism”.

It’s like banging your head against a brick wall eh Doug?!

Read the full DNS article by clicking here.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

A railway staff member is transporting a white male in his wheelchair, inside of a large wheel-barrow. The wheel-barrow is badly stained and is very smelly with flies buzzing around it and an unpleasant brown liquid running down the sides. There is a large sign on the wall adjacent them that says ‘Replacement rail service’. The railway staff member is saying: “Sorry about the smell Sir – we had to borrow these from the local farm!”.

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