The Disability Discrimination Act and Public Transport Provision - An Analysis of the Act and Its Expected Effects with Reference to Experience in the USA


Bryan Matthews

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

policy - disability, technology - intelligent transport systems


In November 1995 the UK Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) received its royal assent. The Act seeks to address discrimination on grounds of disability in the areas of employment, goods and services, education and public transport provision. This paper attempts to analyse specifically what the DDA aims to achieve in the area of public passenger transport services, how it aims to achieve it and to offer some thoughts about how successful it might be. Predicting the effects of new, untried, legislation is a tricky business at any time; prediction is made even more difficult in the case of the DDA due to the way in which the legislation has been framed. What was passed as law last November was really only the beginning of a quite lengthy process. Much of the Act has to be clarified and supplemented by more specific sets of regulations relating to different aspects of the Act and the signs are that this process could take months or even years to complete. What I hope to achieve in this paper is to explain the background to the UK legislation, to outline what the DDA says in relation to transport and to suggest what some of the likely effects will be. This will be done with reference to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990 which has now had some opportunity to take effect but which differs in a number of ways from the UK legislation. I start by looking at what exactly is meant by disability and disability discrimination and how this relates to current transport in the UK. I then focus upon the UK DDA before turning to consider recent events in the USA. I attempt to answer a number of questions. What does the DDA say in relation to transport; what are its aims; what can be said about the likely effects upon disabled travellers, local authorities and upon transport operators; what lessons can we learn from experience in the USA and, finally, where do we go from here?


Permission to publish abstract given by AET.