In August 2003, the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications published an accessibility strategy "Towards Accessible Transport". The document was prepared in co-operation with different Ministries, the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities and public organisations operating within the administrative sector of the Ministry of Transport and Communications. To support the implementation of the strategy a three-year research and development programme, ELSA, was launched in autumn 2003.
The goal of the accessibility strategy is to provide a transport system that safely meets the daily mobility needs of children, the elderly and people with disabilities alike.
The aim is to make the state-maintained road infrastructure, terminals, stops and routes as accessible and safe as possible to all population groups. The work is carried out in co-operation with the public and private sectors and municipalities.
The goal of the programme is to increase awareness in the municipal sector and among transport service providers, authorities and the public of the importance of accessibility. It aims to promote the introduction of accessibility in daily work, and to produce and disseminate information on good practices. Special focus areas are public transport and pedestrian environments.
The policy context comes from the accessibility strategy, the starting points of which are:
- the promotion of social equality;
- the principle of non-discrimination;
- preparations for the ageing of the population;
- functionality and safety of the transport system; and
- improvement of the quality of public transport.
The funding for the ELSA programme is provided by the Ministry of Transport and Communications Finland and the organisations under its control, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Environment, organisations in the field of transport and organisations for the disabled as well as cities.