New transport technology and modes must put accessibility at their heart, according to the Future of Mobility Minister, Jesse Norman.
The Minister was speaking at a showcase event for FLOURISH, a self-driving car project in Bristol that aims to improve mobility and accessibility for older people and those with disabilities.
New technologies within the transport sector have the potential to transform and empower those who suffer with mobility issues.
This, Mr Norman argues, must be taken into account during development of technologies.
The likes of self-driving vehicles and the increased use of mobile apps have great potential to revolutionise journeys for those with mobility issues and vastly improve accessibility – and for companies developing future transport, this has to be a key consideration.
Speaking at the event at the University of Bristol, Mr Norman said: “Self-driving technologies could greatly improve the mobility of vulnerable user groups, helping to address problems of isolation and loneliness across the country.
“The needs of older people, and those with visible or hidden disabilities, must be at the heart of all new modes of transport.”
Earlier this year, the government launched its Future of Mobility: urban strategy, in which it declared transport innovations have to be accessible by design if independent travel is to be empowered.
The strategy launched by the government will explore the idea of modernising laws that are seen as barriers to innovation; within the commitment, it was announced that £90 million will be invested into towns and cities in the UK to test transport innovation.
It builds on previous commitments to improve accessibility for disabled people and the elderly, such as the investment of £300 million so that rail stations are more accessible for disabled passengers.
Transport operators are also being pushed to meet legal obligations to design and deliver services “in a genuinely inclusive way.”
A number of disability organisations support the words of Mr Norman, to ensure transport is accessible for all.