Many thanks for the letter in response to DFI/2019-0131. The lack of information is disappointing as is the Departments apparent unwillingness to ensure the private companies it licences to run public transport routes meet accessibility requirements as is required under DDA and indeed, the provisions of the Commercial Operators Licences/permits scheme which states on page 8 that services must be accessible to ALL members of the public
- Can you clarify, at this point, whether the Commercial Operators permit has been renewed for Airporter for another three year period?
- Can you detail when the initial application was made by Airporter in 2016 for the first Commercial Operators permit, what size (seating capacity) of buses did Airporter detail within the relevant section within the application form asking for vehicle details. Were they all 16 seater buses? Or were some larger?
- It is my understanding that when a company gets a bus operators licence that the Bus Operators division within the Department must be notified of these changes so the Department would have been informed of changes to the type of vehicle being used at various points in time when Airporter decided to downsize its fleet of buses. Under EIR, can you find out from the Bus Operators permit division, or other relevant division within DfI, what were the dates when Airporter informed them that the bus sizes were being reduced to 16 seaters? This information has been given to DfI.
- Under EIR, can I have the equality screening you have completed on this Commercial Operators Renewal application submitted by Airporter since you are already aware that the service is not accessible to members of the public who cannot walk onto the buses. If you did not undertake an Equality Screening process, can you explain why not since the application clearly fails to meet the Departmental Equality Screening policies?
On a general note, I have had a call from a member of the public this morning who was informed by Airporter when trying to book a seat on a bus for a motorised electric wheelchair the words were 'we cannot accommodate you unless you can get out of the wheelchair and we can store it in the boot'. This is direct discrimination and shows no attempt on the part of the operator to accommodate members of the public who are wheelchair bound, it shows no attempt to make any kind of reasonable adjustment.
DfI has a huge role to play in ensuring that the private operators of public transport make their services accessible to all members of the public. This isn't happening and could exacerbate the exclusion disabled members of the public face when trying to access goods and services