Can your scooter go on public transport?
Buses and coaches
Although the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 2000 (PSVAR) says that single-decker buses should all be accessible by 2016, and double-deckers by 2017, there is no legal obligation for buses to carry mobility scooters.
There is, however, a Code which has been drawn up by the Department of Transport and the UK Confederation of Passenger Transport, setting out guidelines for bus operators to follow.
Class 2 scooters may be taken onto public transport, Class 3 cannot
Class 2 scooters are lightweight and designed for use on pavements. Class 3 scooters are classified as road-going vehicles; they are bigger and heavier, and not suitable for bus travel.
There are a few more restrictions:
• the scooter must be no more than 600mm wide and 1000mm long and have a turning circle of no more than 1200mm.
• the combined weight of the scooter and the rider must not exceed the safe working load of the ramp used to board the bus, which is normally 300kg.
Apply in advance for a permit to travel by bus
You can’t just turn up at a bus stop on a suitable Class 2 scooter, you need to apply in advance for a permit. This means approaching the bus operator, who will assess your ability to manoeuvre your scooter, and train you to use the access ramp and to move around inside the bus safely.
They will also advise about which routes and buses you can travel on (not all buses are currently accessible).
Once the company is happy that you can carry out the necessary moves safely and within a reasonable amount of time, they will provide a photo permit, which is the size of the credit card and has a time limit of no more than five years. If you have a permit from one operator, it should be accepted by any other bus company taking part in the scheme.
Rules for bus travel with a scooter
• Once on board, you should put your scooter in the designated wheelchair space, reversing up to the backrest.
• The motor must be turned off and the scooter parked in gear to avoid movement.
• You must stay on the scooter throughout the journey.
• If the wheelchair space is already occupied by a wheelchair, you won’t be able to travel on that bus.
• The bus company will only carry a scooter provided that it does not pose a danger to other passengers. This means that your scooter must be maintained in good working order; that it has not been customised in such a way that it becomes an obstruction; and that it isn’t overloaded with shopping or other luggage, making it unstable.
• If you cause damage to the bus or injury to another passenger, then the travel permit can be withdrawn.
These are companies who are part of the bus and coach scheme
Blackpool Transport Services
Nottingham City Transport
Transport for London (see below)
Wilts and Dorset
London buses operate on a different scheme
Transport for London (TfL) has a separate system – the Mobility Aid Recognition Scheme – which has its own card, and which covers powered wheelchairs and mobility walkers as well as scooters. The requirements are the same as for the CPT scheme, and TfL offers training as part of the permit application.
London bus drivers should accept permits from other bus companies in the CPT scheme.
How about costs?
Train travel with a mobility scooter
As with buses, it isn’t a good idea to simply arrive at a station, and assume that you can travel on a mobility scooter.
There are many operators on the rail network, and they have different rules about transporting scooters.
You should contact the relevant train company beforehand, to make sure that they can safely accommodate your scooter.
Bear in mind also that you need to confirm that any stations you plan to use provide step free access.
If you need assistance on your journey, let the company know at least 24 hours in advance.
Some of the main issues about scooter travel on a train involve weight: scooters tipping backwards on ramps, or being heavier than the ramp’s safe working load. The other consideration is manoeuvrability: whether or not the scooter is sufficiently compact to manoeuvre safely in the carriage.
Because of these potential problems, some companies’ trains are not able to carry passengers on scooters. In some cases, they will carry a scooter only if the user, or a travel companion, can carry it onto the train and stow it in the luggage storage area.
General scooter weight and size guidelines
As a very broad guide, where train companies are able to accommodate passengers on mobility scooters, the overall length and width limits tend to be 1200 mm (3′ 11″) and 700 mm (2′ 3″) respectively. A maximum combined weight (passenger and scooter) of 300 kg is standard.
To find out more about mobility scooters, both Class 2 and Class 3, please visit the Independent Living mobility section
We also have tips on travelling safely on your scooter