Driving and using public transport

Although mobility problems make it harder to get around, transport has become more accessible for disabled and elderly people.

You can get help:

  • using public transport
  • getting discounts on public transport
  • from the NHS with travel costs
  • finding community transport schemes

If you have mobility problems and you need a car to get around, you may be able to get help with costs through:

  • discounted or free road tax
  • a Blue Badge parking permit
  • help with the cost of leasing a vehicle through the Motability scheme

Using public transport with a disability

All public transport vehicles have to be "accessible" so disabled passengers can use them. Public transport also has to accept guide dogs or assistance dogs.

But 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 assistance you require.

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 automatic ramps.

London Underground 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 avoid escalators and calling ahead to arrange for assistance at your destination.

Discounts on public transport for older people and disabled people

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 authorities offer free travel for longer, and some allow a companion to travel with the pass holder for free.

You may have to apply through your local authority, but in most areas you can apply online for an older person's bus pass or for a disabled person's bus pass.

If you often travel by train, it's probably worth getting a Disabled Railcard Card. This gives you a third off the price of rail tickets. Check the criteria to see if you're eligible.

Children aged 5 to 16 with disabilities are eligible for a Disabled Person's Railcard. This lets an adult to travel with them for a third of the cost of an adult fare, while the child pays the normal child fare.

Taxi and private hire companies can provide wheelchair-accessible vehicles if you ask for one when you book a vehicle.

Some councils also give free taxi vouchers to people who find it difficult to use public transport because they're frail or disabled.

NHS help with travel and transport costs

If you pay to travel to a hospital or other NHS premises for NHS-funded treatment or diagnostic tests, you may be able to claim a refund of reasonable travel costs.

Find out more about the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme and who's eligible.

Community transport schemes

These schemes provide transport to and from hospitals, doctors' and dentists' surgeries, and opticians and chiropodists.

Many areas offer a free "Dial-a-Ride" service, offering door-to-door transport for people unable to use normal buses.

Some schemes require you to register and may charge a fee. Carers may be able to travel with you for an additional charge. 

Check with your local council whether your area has a community transport scheme.

The British Red Cross runs a similar transport service in some areas. Contact your local Red Cross branch for information.

Cars and parking

Road tax reductions

If you're disabled or have a serious long-term condition, you might be eligible for a reduction in your road tax, or even be exempt from it altogether.

Find out more on GOV.UK about vehicle tax exemption and vehicle tax reduction.

Blue Badge disabled parking scheme

If you have severe mobility problems that make using public transport difficult, you may be able to get a Blue Badge parking permit for your car.

This lets you park closer to places you wish to visit, such as in marked disabled parking bays.

You may also be able to:

  • park for free within certain time limits in some places 
  • park on single and double yellow lines 
  • stay longer in on-street time-limited parking bays

Blue Badge schemes are run by 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.

Motability scheme

The Motability scheme allows disabled people to use their mobility benefits to lease a car, powered wheelchair or scooter.

You can also pay an extra amount of money if you want 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

Media last reviewed: 27/01/2018

Media review due: 27/01/2021

Page last reviewed: 07/02/2018
Next review due: 07/02/2021