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Getting Out & About: Transport

Stay-independent > Getting Out & About: Transport

On this page we look at ways to help with getting out and about if you have limited mobility, in order to travel in your area and do every-day tasks like shopping.

Blue Badge Parking
If you are disabled, having a blue badge helps you to park closer to many destinations where parking is restricted. Find out if you could be eligible for a blue badge, what it entitles you to, and how to apply for one.
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What is the blue badge parking scheme?

The Disabled Blue Badge parking scheme lets you park closer to your destination if you have severe mobility problems. You do not have to drive to qualify for the blue badge and you can take it with you when out and about in any car to ensure that the person you’re with can park in a more convenient site closer to the facilitates that you wish to use.

With a blue badge, you can park:

  • In disabled parking bays
  • On streets with parking meters – for as long as you need to
  • On single or double yellow lines for up to three hours (providing there is no ban on loading).

Make sure you display the badge clearly on the dashboard of your car so that the front of it can be seen through the front windscreen.

Do I qualify?

You’ll automatically qualify for the badge if:

  • You receive the Higher Rate of the Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance
  • You receive a Personal Independence Payment for being unable to walk further than 50 metres
  • You’re registered blind
  • You receive a War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement
  • You’ve received a lump sum payment as part of the Armed Forces Compensation scheme (tariffs 1 to 8), and have been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability.

You may qualify if you can show that you have a ‘permanent and substantial disability’ which means you are unable to walk very far without experiencing considerable difficulty (or unable to walk at all). You’ll need to fill in an extra part of the application form, and your local council may ask you to do a mobility assessment.

Finally, you may qualify if you have a severe disability in both arms, drive regularly, and you’re unable to operate some types of on-street parking equipment.

How do I apply?

You can apply in two ways:

  • Online – apply for a blue badge on the GOV.UK website
  • Via post – contact your local council and ask for an application form.

For extra guidance on filling in the application form, see this guide from Citizens Advice.

When will I hear back?

Usually within 6-8 weeks. In some cases, you might need to have a mobility assessment to complete the application.

Using Public Transport
This guide looks at your rights when using public transport with a disability and what support you can get. We focus on buses, trains, and taxis.
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Travelling by bus 

Access  

Since 1 January 2017, all buses have to be accessible for a person with a disability. Many buses will have a ramp that allows you to safely transfer from the pavement on to the bus if you use a wheelchair, and the driver should give you reasonable assistance to get on board. There should be a designated space on board where a wheelchair user can safely park.  

Can I use my mobility scooter? 

A number of bus companies with low-floored buses run permit schemes for mobility scooters, following a common code of practice. This code states that you can take your mobility scooter on their buses if: 

  • You ride a “Class 2” scooter which is no more than 600mm x 1000mm. The combined weight of you and the scooter shouldn’t exceed the safe working limit of the ramps on the bus (usually 300kg). 
  • You need to have your mobility scooter assessed by the bus company you want to use first. They will then give you training on how to use your mobility scooter on the bus. 
  • After assessment you’ll be given a permit card which you’ll need to show when you get on the bus. You can use this for any bus operator that has signed up for the CPT code, so you won’t need to do more than one assessment. 

Contact your local bus operator(s) to find out if they are currently taking part in the scheme. 

What about buggies/prams? 

If you use a wheelchair and there is a buggy occupying the wheelchair space, the driver must ask the owner of buggy to move it for you. This issue was the subject of a recent court case which ruled in favour of the person in a wheelchair. In many cases, the person with the buggy will be happy to vacate the space for you, but if they refuse, you can ask for the driver’s support. 

Travelling by train 

Access 

Train stations and trains are becoming increasingly accessible. To make your journey easier, you can book assistance in advance (it has to be at least 24 hours before your journey). National Rail’s Passenger Assist phone number is 0800 0223720, or text 60083.  If you use a wheelchair, you’ll need to arrange assistance so that someone can organise the placement of ramps to help you on and off the train and if you request, escort you and your luggage to the next train or the station exit. 

Can I board the train in a wheelchair? 

Most trains can accommodate you if your wheelchair is less than 700mm by 1200mm. It’s best to book your space in advance since train space can be so limited. 

What about mobility scooters? 

Different train companies have different policies regarding the use of mobility scooters. It will depend on what type of mobility scooter you have and what company you’re travelling with. Contact the train company in advance to check they can accommodate you. 

Travelling by taxi 

Access 

The rules for taxis vary from area to area. In London and in some large cities, licensed taxis have to be wheelchair accessible. This does not apply to “minicabs”, which look like regular cars and are not generally accessible. 

To find out if taxis in your area are accessible, contact the local council’s taxi licensing office. 

A taxi driver who operates an accessible taxi must provide you with assistance in getting in and out of the taxi. 

 If you have an assistance dog they must be allowed into the taxi with you, whether it’s a taxi or minicab. The only exception is where the taxi/minicab in question has a “Notice of Exemption” on their windscreen. You can’t be charged more than the standard fare for having an assistance dog with you. 

Community Transport
If you don’t drive, live in an area that is not well-served by public transport or unable to use public transport independently, there may be community transport services that can help. Community transport varies greatly around the UK, so this page outlines the different schemes available and suggests how to find out what’s in your area.
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Types of community transport

Not all community transport schemes are the same, but generally you are likely to need to pay a contribution to the scheme when you use it. This section looks at the most common types of schemes and how they work:

Door-to-door services

  • Sometimes known as “dial-a-ride”, a door-to-door service will pick you up from your home and take you to where you want to go, such as your local shopping centre.
  • Some dial-a-ride services operate a mini-bus which picks up several people along the way and might go to several destinations.
  • Some services include assistance with getting on and off the bus.
  • Some include space to accommodate wheelchair users.
  • Until recently, many local authorities ran “dial-a-ride” services but recent cuts have seen many of these services discontinued.

Community car schemes

  • This involves a volunteer (or team of volunteers) who acts as a volunteer taxi driver. They will pick you up in their car and take you to your destination.
  • The car may not necessarily be wheelchair accessible and the training that volunteers have may vary.

Group bookings

  • This involves a group of people booking a minibus or coach together to get to the local shops, pub, club etc.
  • The group might be residents of a care home, a supported housing scheme or even just residents of a small village.
  • Group bookings are therefore likely to be a private or voluntary initiative rather than a local council-run scheme.

How to find a community transport scheme in your area

Community transport schemes might be provided by the local council, or by a voluntary group. Since the council is not always aware of what voluntary schemes are currently available, it’s a good idea to use a number of search tools:

You can also see if the Royal Voluntary Service runs a community transport scheme in your area using this tool.

Alternatively, call the Guideposts Information Service and our team will be happy to do the research for you.

Motobility Scheme
The Motability scheme provides you with a car, scooter or powered wheelchair on loan and charges through your benefits. This guide looks at who is eligible for the scheme and how it works.
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Who is eligible

You’re eligible if you receive any of the following benefits:

  • Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance (HRMC DLA)
  • Enhanced Rate Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment (ERMC PIP)
  • War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement (WPMS)
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP)

What you get

  • A wide choice of cars, wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs), mobility scooters or powered wheelchairs that you can lease.
  • Insurance cover for the vehicle you choose.
  • Regular servicing (normally annually).
  • Adaptations at either no cost or a small extra cost.
  • Breakdown cover.
  • Free battery replacements for scooters.

How it works

Choose the vehicle that’s right for you

Motability

You can either use Motability’s online search tools:

Or you can talk to one of Motability’s dealerships. Here is an online tool to find your local dealer. Alternatively, call the Motability general enquiry line on 0300 456 4566.

Mobility Centres

Mobility centres are generally independent centres that will give you advice on the type of vehicle that will best match your needs. Most centres are staffed by driving instructors, engineers and occupational therapists. The teams can generally support with finding a vehicle to match your needs as well as ensure that any scooter or wheelchair that you choose are compatible for use in the vehicle. Many centres have test tracks and can support individuals to learn how to drive an adapted car.

To find a mobility centre near you, use this search tool.

Try it out

Vehicles can be trialled at a Mobility centre or if you already have an idea of your ideal vehicle speak to your Motability local dealer for a trial drive. See above for information on how to find your local dealer.

Another way to try out several options at once is to attend one of Motability’s exhibitions, called “One Big Day” or “The Big Event”. These take place in different parts of the UK around the year. Call the general enquiry line on 0300 456 4566 for information when the next exhibition is taking place.

Arrange the lease

Once you know exactly what you want, your local dealer will arrange the lease of your vehicle and take care of the rest. They will need to confirm that you receive the eligible benefits listed above, and they will order your vehicle, which will be delivered to your home.

More information

Visit the Motability website or click here to see their FAQs page. You can also request an information pack here.

Other pages you may find useful:

Would you like to talk through your options with someone?

Our team at the Guideposts Information Service can support you over the phone.

Call our helpline for free on: 0800 048 7035 | Mon-Fri 9am-5pm

Guideposts Information Service

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