MOBILITY scooters are to be allowed on trams and buses for the first time under a trial being launched by transport bosses.
The move comes after calls for a change of heart to give disabled people the same access rights to public transport as everyone else.
I’m delighted that Transport for Edinburgh is considering a trial on both buses and tramsJim Eadie
Edinburgh Southern SNP MSP Jim Eadie raised the issue earlier this year. He said he had been told “operational circumstances” meant Transport for Edinburgh could not allow the scooters on board due to large passenger numbers, the challenge of manoeuvring the vehicles on and off a crowded bus or tram, and the potential risk to other passengers.
Mr Eadie called on the company to carry out an urgent review of the policy. Today, he hailed the plan for a trial as a breakthrough.
The News revealed last year, shortly before the trams started running, that mobility scooters were to be banned. Disability campaigners labelled the decision “outright discrimination”, and champion fundraiser, war veteran and scooter user Tom Gilzean condemned the move as a “slap in the face”.
News of the trial came in a letter to Mr Eadie from TfE chief executive Ian Craig.
He wrote: “The issue of mobility scooter access to Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams services was raised at the most recent board meeting of Transport for Edinburgh, held on July 9. It was agreed at this time that I should progress a paper to facilitate a trial for both bus and tram services with any final decision on implementation delegated to the respective boards.”
Mr Craig added: “At the present time, Edinburgh Trams are considering technical and safety-related issues concerning the carriage of mobility scooters with our vehicle manufacturers and infrastructure maintainers, assisted by colleagues from the city council.
“I am aware that Lothian Buses are looking again at Confederation of Passenger Transport guidelines on the carriage of mobility scooters on buses in relation to any difficulties they foresee should this industry standard be adopted.”
Mr Eadie praised the company for the announcement. He said: “I’m delighted that Transport for Edinburgh has seen sense on this issue and is prepared to consider a trial for both bus and tram services.
“While a final decision would have to be taken by the respective boards, I’m very glad TfE are taking these issues seriously. This decision will be welcomed by people across the city. Ian Craig deserves credit for the leadership he has provided on this issue.
“No person should be discriminated against in accessing publicly funded services simply because they are disabled or have trouble with mobility.”
Allowing scooters on board is expected to be easier for trams than for buses simply because of the space involved.
TfE said details of the trials would be discussed at a meeting due in October. Mr Craig said: “Accessibility continues to be a big priority across all of our services and we are currently considering what further improvements can be made. Of course, buses and trams are different so careful consideration needs to be given to the practicalities with each mode in mind.”