Social care and support guide
Driving and using public transport if you're disabled
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If you're older or disabled, there are ways to make it easier for you to use public transport or to drive.
You can get help:
- using public transport
- getting discounts on public transport
- from the NHS with travel costs
- finding community transport schemes
- using taxis
If you have mobility problems and you need a car to get around, you may be able to get help with costs and parking by:
- discounted or free road tax
- a Blue Badge parking permit
- leasing a vehicle through the Motability scheme
You might also want to read our information on walking aids, wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
Using public transport
All public transport has to be "accessible" so disabled passengers can use it. Public transport also has to accept guide dogs or assistance dogs.
If you're using public transport, it's worth contacting the transport operator before you travel to make sure they're able to offer the help you need.
Buses and trains usually have priority seating for older people and people with disabilities. They also usually have space and wide doors for wheelchairs. Some buses, trains and trams are fitted with ramps.
Public transport in London
London transport (trains, buses and river boats) is being upgraded to improve step-free access.
Staff at underground stations are also trained to help people move around the underground system – for example, by helping you use lifts instead of escalators and steps, and calling ahead to arrange for help at your destination.
Discounts on public transport
Older people and people with disabilities can travel free on local buses anywhere in England between 9.30am and 11pm Monday to Friday, and at any time during the weekend and on bank holidays.
Some local councils offer free travel for longer, and some allow a companion to travel with you for free.
If you often travel by train, it's probably worth getting a disabled persons railcard. This gives you, and a companion travelling with you, a third off the price of rail tickets.
Children aged 5 to 16 with disabilities are also eligible for a disabled persons railcard. This lets an adult travel with them for a third of the cost of an adult fare, while the child pays the normal child fare.
NHS help with travel costs
If you pay to travel to a hospital or other NHS setting for NHS-funded treatment or tests, you may be able to claim a refund of reasonable travel costs.
Find out more about the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme.
Community transport schemes
These schemes provide transport to and from hospitals, GP surgeries, dentists, opticians and chiropodists and podiatrists.
Many areas offer a free "Dial-a-Ride" service, which give you door-to-door transport if you can't use normal buses.
You need to register for some schemes and you may have to pay. Carers may be able to travel with you for an extra charge.
Check with your local council's social services team whether there is a community transport scheme in your area.
Taxi and private hire companies can provide wheelchair-accessible vehicles if you ask for one when you book.
Some councils give free taxi vouchers to people who find it difficult to use public transport.
Driving with mobility problems
If you have mobility problems and you need a car to get around, you may be able to get help with costs and parking.
Road tax reductions
You may be able to get a reduction in your road tax, or you may not have to pay it at all.
Find out more on GOV.UK about vehicle tax exemption and vehicle tax reduction.
Blue Badge disabled parking scheme
You may be able to get a Blue Badge parking permit for your car.
This lets you park in disabled parking bays.
With a Blue Badge, you can:
- park for free within certain times
- park on single and double yellow lines
- stay longer in on-street time-limited parking bays
Blue Badge schemes are run by local councils. Most councils will let you apply for a Blue Badge online.
Central London is exempt from the national Blue Badge regulations and the central London boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Camden, Westminster and City of London don't fully operate the Blue Badge scheme.
But if you're exempt from road tax or have a Blue Badge permit, you may be able to get an exemption from paying the central London congestion charge.
The Motability scheme lets you use your mobility benefits to lease a car, powered wheelchair or scooter.
You can also pay extra for a more expensive vehicle.
The Motability Scheme is open to anyone who gets:
- the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- the War Pensioners' Mobility Supplement (WPMS)
- the enhanced rate mobility component of Armed Forces Independence Payment
Page last reviewed: 07/02/2018
Next review due: 07/02/2021