Choosing Public Transport For Older Travelers With Disabilities

Public Transport is the backbone of modern public health systems, but does it serve all who need it? Disability support in this context refers to those activities which are carried out by public transport systems and other similar modes of public transport in order to promote the full social inclusion of disabled persons. The accessibility aspects of public transport rest upon three main areas: access control, disability access and mobility. This article addresses the wider context of disability access; more specifically, it addresses issues of access by intercity transport for those with mobility disabilities, air transport for those with mobility disabilities and sea transport for those with a limited mobility history.


Access control. This area focuses on ensuring that disabled passengers have access to and choice in a safe and functional transport mode. These issues include access to doors, platforms, boarding and exiting vehicles, services and facilities provided at stations and on streets. These issues are addressed by ensuring disabled travelers have access to platforms and doors in an accessible way, providing them with assistance in movement, or making available suitable services such as mobility lift for those with mobility disabilities. This also includes ensuring that disabled passengers have access to and choice in a vehicle of their choice.


Mobility. This area focuses on ensuring a positive travel experience for everyone including those with mobility disabilities and other minor or no mobility disabilities. This is achieved by ensuring better route and traffic density analysis, integration of mobility features into the design of vehicles, and appropriate use of spaces. In addition, the accessibility of sites, buildings, and infrastructures is also done in such a way that allows mobility-based services in the same way as non-motorized services. These include access to shopping centres, hospitals, banks, post offices, and markets for example. It also encompasses home mobility aids.

Older people and those with disabilities. Public transport is often a very viable option for older people and those with disabilities because it provides a reliable, affordable means of traveling. It allows older people to remain independent and it provides a secure environment where they can safely get around. For this reason, many communities have in place a policy regarding the use of mass transit for older people and/or disabilities. A significant amount of research has gone into determining what makes public transport a more viable option in providing mobility for the older population.


Accessibility to low-floor buses. Most cities have in place policies requiring access to low-floor buses for people with mobility disabilities because these low floor buses offer the most safety and comfort for the traveler. However, many people with mobility issues do not have easy access to these low-floor buses and as a result end up having to ride buses which are not always safe, inconvenient, or comfortable.

Accommodations for wheelchair users. Many disability-accessible travel systems do not offer wheelchair access. This is especially true in areas where rail systems are not very common. If a disabled traveler cannot easily access a rail system, it may be more practical to look for an ADA compliant bus or train that offers this accessibility.