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Driving and using public transport if you have mobility issues

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 can also find out about 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 provide 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, to help with wheelchair access and avoiding stairs on Transport for London.

Plan an accessible journey with Transport for London.

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 usually 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.

Find your local council on GOV.UK.

Apply for an older person's bus pass on GOV.UK or apply for a disabled person's bus pass on GOV.UK.

If you often travel by train, it's probably worth checking the Disabled Persons Railcard website to see if you are eligible for 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 15 with disabilities are also eligible for a disabled persons railcard. This lets an adult travel with them for a third of the cost of most adult fares, 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 (HTCS).

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 gives 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.

Using taxis

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 also be able to get a reduction in your road tax, or not have to pay it at all.

Find out more on GOV.UK about financial help if you're disabled, such as 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 or renew a Blue Badge on GOV.UK.

Blue Badge holders can apply for a 100% Blue Badge discount for the London Congestion Charge, on the Transport for London website.

Motability Scheme

The Motability Scheme lets you use your mobility allowance to lease a car, powered wheelchair or scooter. You can also pay extra for a more expensive vehicle.

You need to receive 1 of the allowances used on the scheme and have at least 12 months left on your award.

The allowances used include:

Find out more about how the Motability Scheme works.

Video: looking beyond the standard wheelchair

In this video, Nikky and Robby talk about how their wheelchairs help them lead active lives.

Media last reviewed: 12 January 2021
Media review due: 12 January 2024

Page last reviewed: 5 July 2021
Next review due: 5 July 2024