Transport operators have been warned that they could face legal action if they fail to offer accessible services to disabled and older passengers.
The Equality & Human Rights Commission Scotland is embarking on a new project to support individuals who have experienced discrimination while using, or attempting to use, public transport. EHRC said the new scheme would use "all available avenues" to assist in resolving complaints, including offering advice and help with correspondence, or providing funding for legal support.
The project is part of wider EHRC activity to encourage improvements to the transport industry’s policies and practice so that the needs of disabled and older people are key considerations in the current and future design of public transport. It also aims to reduce gaps in legal protection for those affected.
In addition it will help gather information about discrimination in the transport sector against disabled and older people, evidence of which may inform the EHRC’s enforcement work in the future.
EHRC Scotland will consider complaints involving a range of disabilities, including invisible impairments such as mental health conditions. Applications are welcome from lawyers or advisers who need legal support to address complaints of discrimination in transport, as well as older or disabled individuals who have been unable to get legal support.
Commissioner of EHRC Scotland, Professor Lesley Sawers, commented: "Transport operators must ensure equal access to public transport for all. They have clear responsibilities in law to ensure disabled people and older people travel with ease, but too often they fail to meet these obligations. We will vigorously defend the rights of disabled people and older people to use public transport.
"Our Legal Support Project will provide funding and help to resolve complaints, but failing that, we will not be afraid to support a case to ensure that people can enforce their legal rights and seek redress. Older people and disabled people must be able to access and use public transport just like everybody else."