The Scottish Executive (now the Scottish Government) commissioned research to support their commitment to assessing public transport options for disabled people and to improve targeting of funding. Originally the focus of the required work was on the role of concessionary fares in relation to accessibility of transport for disabled travellers, but advice from the research Steering Group led to the scope being broadened out at a very early stage. As a result, the focus of the research was changed to explore and assess a wide range of potential improvements to public transport for disabled people and inform the commitment laid out in the 2003 Scottish Executive Partnership Agreement.
The research was required to explore a wide range of potential improvements for public transport for disabled people in relation to:
- Difficulties in relation to the availability of transport
- Difficulties in relation to the accessibility of transport
- Information needs
- Fear of travel - i.e. confidence
- Personal barriers to travel.
The key objectives of the research were as follows:
- To examine the reality of disabled people’s travel patterns
- To identify disabled people’s needs and priorities in relation to travel and transport
- To identify what prevents people from travelling more easily, often and widely
- The identification of the measures required to move towards equality of travel opportunity
- The recommendation of how such measures can successfully be implemented.
Elements of the work included a literature review of past research, case studies of good practice in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK, a household survey of 700 disabled adults, focus groups involving potential public transport users, an analysis of data collected by the Scottish Household Survey, consultation with organisations in Scotland representing the interests of disabled people, face-to-face meetings with operators, accessibility audits of selected locations and an analysis of existing data on the impacts of concessionary fares.