- Disabled children’s charity Whizz-Kidz focuses on better independence and confidence
- Get On Board report finds challenges remain despite significant investment in accessibility
- Stagecoach joins new national Accessible Travel Alliance to help make a lasting difference
PERTH, Scotland, 2015-11-19 — /Travel PR News/ — Stagecoach, Britain’s biggest bus and coach operator, is backing a new campaign to improve transport accessibility for young wheelchair users.
A new report from disabled children’s charity Whizz-Kidz published today (18 November 2015) has found that many wheelchair users, as well as their families and carers are unable to travel as independently as they would like and do not feel confident enough to use public transport.
The Get on Board report shows that barriers in accessing public transport remain, despite significant investment in accessibility improvements in recent years. Issues can include a lack of accessible transport near where respondents live and the attitude of staff or other passengers.
Stagecoach, which operates around 8,500 buses and coaches across the UK, has invested more than £650m in past eight years to introduce more low-floor buses and coaches to help wheelchair users and people with mobility difficulties.
The company has dedicated disability helplines and has taken steps to enforce wheelchair spaces on its buses. Stagecoach has also invested in a sector-leading driver training programme, which includes employees receiving dedicated guidance on the challenges faced by people with disabilities and how to help them.
Stagecoach is backing the Whizz-Kidz campaign, which is calling for:
• Improvements to infrastructure, information and facilities so the transport network is more accessible for wheelchair users.
• The general public to respect young wheelchair users’ right to travel so that they do not feel scared to travel alone.
• Regular and meaningful disability awareness training so that staff are more understanding of young wheelchair users.
• Involvement of young disabled people in the planning, auditing and design of services and policies so that their voices are heard at all levels.
• Representation of young wheelchair users in travel marketing materials so that people can see what young wheelchair users can do, not what they can’t
To help drive forward change, Whizz-Kidz recently formed a national Accessible Travel Alliance – an industry leading group made up of forward-thinking travel operators, to make a real and lasting difference to disabled people’s experience of travel. Alliance partners who have signed up to the Get on Board campaign include Stagecoach, National Express, Gatwick and Heathrow Airports, Omniserv, and Transport for London.
Steven Stewart, Director of Communications for Stagecoach Group, said: “Everyone involved in transport has a responsibility to work together to make the door-to-door journeys of people with disabilities better.
“It includes the manufacturers of buses, the local authorities responsible for the roads and street infrastructure, bus operators who run services and government, which sets wider policy and the funding environment for public transport.
“We invest millions of pounds a year in making our services more accessible, as well as providing better information about our services and how they are running. But it is not just about money and making choices about the best use of limited resources. It is also about people and how our teams help individual customers making their own important individual journeys every day.
“Listening to the personal experiences – good and bad – of young wheelchair users is a sobering insight into the practical and often frustrating travel challenges they face every day in doing what many of us simply take for granted. That’s why we are also focusing on regular specific training for the thousands of bus drivers and other employees who deliver our customers’ journeys.
“We hope that by working with Whizz-Kidz on the Get on Board campaign and being a core member of the Accessible Transport Alliance we can make a real, positive and permanent difference to the lives of many young people. Their journeys frequently involve more than one mode of transport, so we also hope other travel operators will get on board with the campaign.”
To get involved and pledge your support for more inclusive travel, visit
For further information contact:
Stagecoach Group communications at firstname.lastname@example.org or tel 01738 442111.
Tamara Sperling at email@example.com or tel 0207 798 6136.
Notes to Editors
About the report
The Whizz-Kidz Get on Board report includes survey results from 128 young wheelchair users and their families and carers between June and September 2015. The survey looked at independent travel, trains, buses, taxis, planes, underground, metro, tram and light rail. Factors explored included the mode and frequency of transport most used. Insights were also drawn from focus groups, interviews and advice from young disabled people and their parents who are part of the Whizz-Kidz network.
Copies of the report can be accessed at www.whizz-kidz.org.uk/getonboard.
• Whizz-Kidz is a national charity for disabled children and young people.
• As well as supporting young disabled people to access the right mobility equipment to fit their young lives, the charity also delivers wheelchair skills-training, work placements, residential camps and youth clubs to support a full and active childhood, and a bright future.
• The charity’s young people’s services in England are funded by The Big Lottery through a £5.3m grant to support Whizz-Kidz to provide 10,000 new opportunities to young disabled people over three years.
• Whizz-Kidz has offered over 25,000 opportunities to young disabled people throughout the UK since 1990.
• Stagecoach Group is an international public transport group, with extensive operations in the UK, mainland Europe, the United States and Canada. The Group employs around 39,000 people, and operates around 13,000 buses, coaches, trains and trams.
• Stagecoach is one of the UK’s biggest bus and coach operators with around 8,500 buses and coaches. The Group’s business includes major city bus operations in London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Hull, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield and Cambridge. Low-cost coach service, megabus.com, operates a network of inter-city services across the UK and continental Europe.
• Stagecoach is a major UK rail operator, running the South West Trains, Island Line and East Midlands Trains networks. It has also partnered with Virgin to run the East Coast and West Coast inter-city rail franchises.
• Stagecoach operates the Supertram light rail network in Sheffield.
• In North America, Stagecoach operates around 2,400 buses and coaches in the United States and Canada. megabus.com links around 130 key locations in North America. Stagecoach is also involved in operating commuter, transit, contracted, charter, airport shuttle and sightseeing services.
SOURCE: Stagecoach Group plc.