Original publication: April 2018
CERTH/HIT: Dr. Evangelos BEKIARIS, Matina LOUKEA, Pavlos SPANIDIS
EDF: Saskia EWING, Marie DENNINGHAUS
ENAT: Ivor AMBROSE, Katerina PAPAMICHAIL, Roberto CASTIGLIONI, Chris VEITCH
Graphic design: John Alertas (CERTH/HIT)
Linguistic diligence: Elisabeth Mestheneos (50+, f. AGE President)
Short link to this post: http://bit.ly/2vNxxGN
Evidence from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights consistently demonstrates that persons with disabilities face discrimination and barriers to exercising their rights on an equal basis with others. This is despite the fact that, in the European Union (EU), persons with reduced mobility (PRMs), whether caused by disability, age or any other factor, are accorded the same rights as all citizens to free movement, freedom of choice and non-discrimination. Against this background, this study examines the problems of accessibility in transportation and tourism, covering the EU as a whole and providing relevant analysis from a number of individual EU Member States.
The aim of this study is to provide Members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) with clear recommendations on what could be done, in particular at the EU policy level, to support accessibility in the transport and tourism sectors. The distinction is made in this study between:
- Local transport (which includes mainly public transport services such as buses, trams, metro, and short-distance rail transport, but also the use of personal cars and personal mobility aids).
- Long-distance transport (including road, rail, air, and maritime transport).
Design and sources
The work has been organised around 2 axes:
- The areas under examination, namely local transport, long-distance transport and tourism; and
- The 3 distinct phases, namely Description of the current status, Assessment of needs, gaps and good practices, and Recommendations for future policy and development.
The EU Legal Framework
Relevant EU regulations, standards and initiatives, have been thoroughly surveyed and comments provided, as appropriate.
The NEBs estimated that they receive, on average, 736 complaints from air passengers annually, 26 concerning maritime transport, 421 regarding the rail and 201 from the road. From them, only 1% of the complaints came from persons with disabilities and persons with reduced mobility. Nearly half of the NEBs (44%) admitted that most passengers, as well as the public in general, are not sufficiently aware of the existence and role of NEBs.
From the users’ point of view, the majority of participants that replied to the relevant questionnaire of this study (59%) also stated that are not aware of the relevant NEBs that could help them with the enforcement of their rights.
Accessibility across Europe
The accessibility of the local and long-distance transport, as well as tourism, of each EU Member State has been evaluated and the various EU Member States have been clustered into the following “models”:
- In accessible transport: front-runners, self-regulated, improvers, provincial, mixed, gap of implementation, late-starters and low-achievers.
- In accessible tourism: front-runners, improvers, starters, late-starters and low-achievers.
The relevant qualitatively assessed accessibility status of each state and the EU is graphically depicted bellow.
The main issues identified per area are briefly summarised below:
1. Local Transport
- No information on accessibility of local transport in accessible format, that is concise and reliable.
- Low use of mobile apps and social media in the sector.
- Low accessibility in suburban and rural areas.
- Major access barriers in interchanges and intermodal hubs.
Low number/frequency of accessible city buses.
2. Long-distance Transport
- Slow implementation of relevant regulations.
- Need for better accessible equipment maintenance and redundancy.
- Need for incentives and policies to push operators to go beyond minimum legal requirements.
- Staff training and behavioural issues constitute a barrier.
- Need for accessible infomobility service tools (including cross-border and multimodal transport).
- More emphasis on use of modern Information & Communication Technology (ICT) for accessible ticketing replacement.
- Ensure overall accessibility at the destination, not only individual services.
- Successful accessible destinations have a clear “Top down” accessibility policy.
- Lack of strong business case remains a major barrier to business engagement.
- Individual Accessibility Information Schemes (AIS) lack harmonisation and often reliability.
- Staff knowledge and information is also an important barrier.
- Lack of accessible experiences, attractions and recreation opportunities.
- Inclusive conference organisation and events help promote accessibility in destinations.
The main policy and research recommendations per area, are briefly summarised below:
Generic (G) & Research (R)
G1. Develop an “EU Access Board” or European Agency (like the one in the USA).
G2. Support of at least WACAG 2.0 accessibility level of the websites and apps.
R1. Research on a standardised clustering of disabilities for accessible transport and tourism.
R2. Research on the economic impact of substantially higher accessibility levels.
Local Transport (LO), National Transport (N) and European Level (E)
LO-N1: “Front-runners” to focus on overall state coverage of services, including rural and suburban areas.
LO-N2: “Gap of implementation” EU Member States to consider innovative business models to finance accessibility.
LO-N3: “Late-starters” to push through awareness campaigns the issue higher on the political agenda.
LO-E1: Standardise, in an accessible format, information on local transport accessibility across EU Member States
LO-E2: At least 1/3 of local transport vehicles to be accessible.
LO-E3: Harmonise local transport training staff across Europe.
LO-E4: Extend Regulation (EU) No 181/2011 to all bus and coach services, including local ones.
LO-R1: Research on holistic tools for accessibility inclusion in Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs).
LO-R2: Research on autonomous vehicles accessibility.
LO-R3: Research on emerging Mobility as a Service (MaaS) schemes accessibility.
LO-R4: Research on epayment/mpayment and contactless Information Technology Services (ITS) use for personalised accessibility.
Long-distance Transport (LD)
LD-N1: “Front-runners” to implement transport staff life-long training in accessibility nationwide and for all modes.
LD-N2: “Gap of implementation” EU Member States to adopt realistic targets and prioritise implementation in a modular manner.
LD-N3: “Late-starters” to regulate accessibility through national act and implementation plan for all modes.
LD-E1: Specify better safety reasons behind denial of carriage in the air sector and, if applied, the cost to be borne by the airline.
LD-E2: Reduce the maximum notice period to book assistance in the rail sector.
LD-E3: Define guidelines for staff training and include it in all modes regulations.
LD-E4: Adopt a multimodal passenger’s rights regulation.
LD-E5: Denominate an “accessibility coordinator” in multimodal terminals.
LD-R1: Provide personalised information for the required transport mode interchange time for each PRM group, according to mobility pace, speed and restrictions.
LD-R2: Research cost-efficient accessibility for domestic excursion boats.
LD-R3: Integrate the many digital tools across EU Member States on long-distance transport accessibility info.
TO-N1: All EU Member States to develop statistics on national accessible tourism offer and demand.
TO-N2: “Front-runners” to consolidate actions to cover the whole territory.
TO-N3: “Improvers” and “late-starters” to liaise with front-runners to transfer know-how.
TO-E1: Accessible tourism market to be included in Eurostat statistics.
TO-E2: Return on Investment (RoI) of accessible tourism to be populated with “hard data” and business cases at European level.
TO-E3: Develop or adopt a common EU label on accessible tourism.
TO-E4: EU wide utilisation of the European “Accessible Tourism Directory” database.
TO-R1: Research on barriers to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) business development.
TO-R2: Research on communication channels for SMEs business advice and support.
TO-R3: Research on key communication channels to convince SMEs to invest in accessibility.
Selection of figures: