As discount mobility experts, we here at CareCo understand that using a mobility scooter is a way of gaining independence and feeling free, especially if your movement issues restrict how far you can walk before needing to stop. Investing in a mobility scooter can open up a whole world of possibilities, with you able to travel as far as your scooter will go, helping you to keep in contact with family and friends whilst enjoying the ride. However, scooters can only hold a certain amount of power, and with that comes a maximum distance range, giving you a limit on how far you can travel before needing to recharge your battery. Using public transport can extend the life of your battery charge by helping you travel further, but what are the rules concerning using your scooter on a bus or train? With so many regulations to abide by, we’ve done some research to simplify what help is available to you and how to access it.
According to the government and the NHS, all public transport vehicles should be accessible to everyone – young, old, disabled or otherwise. Alongside this, companies must allow people who require the help of assistance/guide dogs to use their services, and by 2017 all buses will have to meet required specifications to be able to operate safely for all customers. That being said, while there’re certain restrictions that are applied to boarding a bus or train while using a scooter, there are ways of taking advantage of the services available while abiding by the rules.
Travelling By Bus
Travelling by bus is one of easiest and cheapest ways of getting around your local village, town or city, and is one of the most accessible forms of public transport available. However, to be able to take advantage of the service you’ll need to check if your local company is part of the Confederation for Passenger Transport (CPT), and if they’re running a scooter permit scheme. To comply with the scheme’s regulations your scooter must place in the Class 2 category and meet certain size limitations. You must also allow the bus company to assess your safety, which can mean taking part in training exercises. Once you’ve applied for a permit you should be invited to attend classes to help train you in how to board/depart a bus safely, and how to park your scooter to keep you safe while travelling. Your scooter must also be free of any bulky accessories, and must be maintained to a high standard.
For your scooter to be deemed suitable for travel by bus it must comply with the following rules:
- It must be a Class 2 mobility scooter. Class 2 scooter’s are lightweight and designed for use on public pavements only, and have a maximum speed limit of 4mph.
- It can be no wider than 600mm (23.6in) or longer than 1000mm (39.3in). Baskets, mirrors and other accessories can push your scooter over these measurement limits.
- It must have a turning radius of no more than 1200mm (47.2in).
- When you’re using the scooter it must not exceed the safe working load of a standard ramp, normally around 300kg (47 stone).
If you’re unsure if your local company runs the permit scheme, or if you have any questions, contact them to clarify any information.
Travelling By Train
While travelling by train is generally faster than by bus, it can come with its own dangers and difficulties. Train operators have highlighted that there are certain problems people may face when boarding a train while riding a mobility scooter – tipping backwards, being too heavy to be supported by a ramp, not being able to manoeurve inside the carriage – leaving each company to decide their own rules.
Before travelling by train it’s advised that you contact your local company at least 24 hours in advance to ensure that you’ll be given the right help when you arrive. They’ll also be able to confirm which stations are scooter-friendly, and can arrange assistance for you if it’s needed.
Both buses and trains have designated priority sections for wheelchair and mobility scooter users. It is up to the driver or a member of staff to ask anyone standing in this section to vacate it for you. Certain buses and trains are fitted with automatic ramps, while others will require a staff member to assemble them.
Deals & Discounts
In England disabled or elderly customers can apply online for free bus passes, entitling you to free bus travel between 9:30am – 11pm Monday to Friday, and any time over weekends/bank holidays.
If you live in London you can apply for a Freedom Pass, entitling you to free travel on most forms of London public transport. As for the rest of the country, disabled customers can apply for a Disabled Person’s Railcard, giving you a discount of a third off of the price of train tickets.
Alongside bus and train travel, certain councils will offer taxi vouchers for the frail/elderly or disabled. Enquire with your local authority to find out more.
If you’re currently looking for a transport-friendly mobility scooter you can use this RIDC (Research Institute for Disabled Consumers) page to help you select one which matches specification. In the meantime view our range of Travel Mobility Scooters.