The DfT response to the consultation on proposed accessible information regulations has been published. Outlining the feedback received the response explains that DfT will move forward to finalise the accessible information regulations with a view to commencing the new legislation by October 2023.
The Bus Services Act 2017 amended the Equality Act 2010 to create sections 181a-181d which enable the introduction of Accessible Information Regulations (AIR). In doing so, Ministers recognised the omission of consistent accessible information onboard local services in Great Britain, and the negative impact of a lack of information on the ability of some passengers to travel confidently.
The Summer 2018 consultation on proposals for introducing Accessible Information Regulations proposed that operators of local services in Great Britain should be required to provide on board information in audible and visible formats, identifying the respective route, each upcoming stop, and points at which diversions begin and end. The proposals attempted to balance benefits for passengers with operator flexibility, suggesting high level standards for information provided, whilst remaining agnostic as to the specific solutions that would be used. An implementation timetable and exemptions from the requirements were suggested, recognising that the industry is large and diverse, and that some operators would be better placed than others to respond swiftly to new requirements.
Over the course of the consultation period the proposals were discussed with around 250 stakeholder event attendees, and received around 350 responses, including 229 submitted as part of a campaign organised by Guide Dogs.
Respondents were generally supportive of our overall approach of seeking to improve the availability of information provided on board local services. However, a wide variety of views were expressed regarding the technical aspects of the proposals. This included the categories of information that should be provided, the way its quality should be assessed, and timescales for the requirements to apply to smaller operators and older vehicles. Whilst a clear consensus was not evident for every question asked, the responses have enabled DfT to review and revise the proposal to strike a better balance between meeting the immediate information needs of passengers and implementing a new requirement which is sufficiently proportionate in its scope and application.
DfT will now move forward to finalise the Accessible Information Regulations, with a view to commencing the new legislation by October 2023. These regulations will support growth by providing key information for both disabled and non-disabled people when using local services so they can access employment, education, and leisure more easily.