STEPS have been taken to make public transport more accessible in Coventry city centre.
A new Transport Charter designed to improve and aid the experience of people with disabilities using buses and trains will be adopted in the coming months.
The Disability Equality Action Partnership (DEAP) is constituted by the council and made up of the council and disability organisations, universities, schools and colleges and individuals with disabilities.
The Transport Charter outlines commitments including: promoting the public transport system as fully inclusive for people of all abilities, ensuring better implementation of priority seating policies, advertising more widely the availability of permit provision for scooters on public transport, supporting the expansion in electric bus capacity and allocation to more bus routes in polluted areas of the city and continuing a dialogue with train companies to improve accessibility for wheelchair passengers.
The scheme is for regional partners and transport operators to acknowledge how they currently support disabled people of all ages with both visible and non-visible disabilities, and how they can assist even further.
The Charter is currently with disability forums for feedback before being officially launched in the city later this year.
The aim is not only to improve awareness among transport operators of the difficulties faced by transport users with disabilities, but to also reinforce the message that they are fully committed to putting in any measures that are both practical and possible to improve access, freedom and inclusion to the public transport service.
While it is not a compulsory measure for providers to comply with the charter, many recognise that their actions are advantageous to their business in enabling more residents with disabilities to use public transport with confidence.
Chair of the Disability Equality Action Partnership (DEAP) and Transport Charter lead Coun Christine Thomas said: “This builds on the success of the Shoppers Charter back in 2019 in making our city a disability friendly place.
“It also goes towards forming part of the Wellbeing for Life ethos and City of Culture 2021”.
“It is important transport operators, regional partners and local people understand the value of the ‘purple pound’, and equally important that disabled persons feel included in the planning of our city.
“By working together we can deliver a fully accessible public transport service that people with disabilities and additional requirements can use with confidence.”
Coventry City Council leader Coun George Duggins said: “People with disabilities have been among those hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic and we are committed as a council to ensure that the quality of life for these members of our community improves.
“Part of this commitment is working to break down and remove existing barriers and obstacles that many people with disabilities continue to face such as using public transport.
“I fully support the work of the Disability Equality Action Partnership (DEAP) in making our city a more inclusive place to live and I we welcome all feedback during the consultation period to make this charter the best it can be.”
Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, Coun O’Boyle said: “This Transport Charter is great news for Coventry and includes commitments around electric buses which will make a major dent in addressing air pollution.
“This will sit alongside our range of schemes to improve air quality and this will significantly improve the life for those people with disabilities who suffer as a result of air pollution.
“We already have excellent partnership working with bus companies like National Express Coventry and together we have been striving to make our public transport network, greener and cleaner and more accessible for all.”
The Transport Charter came about in response to feedback gathered from a variety of groups, organisations and individuals with disabilities, stating more needed to be done to ensure the freedom and inclusion of all persons with disability across the city.