Scooters on Public transport in England

Carriage of Mobility Scooters on Public Transport – Feasibility Study

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4 UK Public Transport Operators’ Policies

4.1 Introduction

4.1.1 Although the existing national policy is that mobility scooters are not suitable for carriage on public transport, there have been instances where mobility scooters have travelled freely on various forms of public transport.

4.1.2 In order to ascertain current policies towards the carriage of mobility scooters a number of public transport operators – covering light rail, bus, coach, underground rail and taxi – were contacted. The research did not include heavy rail as the Association of Train Companies had provided its policy document on this matter. Other relevant organisations such as the Public Carriage Office, National Taxi Association and the Light Rail Association were also contacted in order to gauge their opinions on the subject. Of the 25 approached, 15 responses were received which provided a general indication of the existing policies and experiences in the UK.

4.2 Heavy Rail

4.2.1 The accessibility regulations do not require train operating companies to carry scooters and, until recently, the majority would not carry such equipment because of concerns about size, manoeuvrability and/or stability. However, scooter design and technology is continuing to develop and smaller, lighter and more manoeuvrable scooters are now available and battery design has improved significantly. In the light of these developments, all train operators will now accept lightweight scooters, which can be folded and carried on board as luggage. The final decision on whether to carry a mobility scooter on a train rests with individual train operating companies as they are best placed to take into account the rolling stock they use and local conditions when making their decision.

4.2.2 The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) established a “Scooter Group” with the objective of trying to create a nationwide policy for the rail network. Some TOCs have carried out rudimentary trials to establish the safety of driving various mobility scooter models on to the different trains they operate, and manoeuvring them into the wheelchair space. In light of the trials and the increased demand by passengers to use mobility scooters, ATOC has published a working policy and individual requirements for each TOC with respect to the carriage of mobility scooters 12 . This document can be seen in Appendix C.

4.2.3 The general policy states that train companies welcome disabled passengers and accommodate mobility scooters powered by sealed batteries where possible and all folding mobility scooters can be carried on board as luggage. However, the policy notes that it is not possible for all mobility scooters to be taken on every train because the dimensions of both the mobility scooters and train interiors differ.

4.2.4 The policy states that most trains can accommodate manual and powered wheelchairs up to a maximum width of 670mm and 1,200mm long (including footplates). However, if the mobility scooter or wheelchair is larger, then the relevant train company needs to be contacted to decide whether it will be allowed access to the train. The policy also states that the loaded weight of a mobility scooter should not be more than 230kg/36.2stone. This is the maximum weight that older ramps can safely accommodate. These limits are lower compared to those required by RVAR, but this reflects the need for the policy to include the capabilities of older units.

4.2.5 When analysing the individual TOC policies; of the 24 TOCS, 13 state that they will carry mobility scooters that are within the dimensions of the ‘reference wheelchair’. A further two TOCs (ARRIVA Trains Wales and South West Trains) will consider the carriage of mobility scooters once the user has contacted the appropriate train company to discuss individual mobility scooter model specifications and a permit is issued. Another two TOCs (Central Trains and Hull Trains) will carry mobility scooters, but have slightly different length and width limits. The remaining seven TOCs will only allow mobility scooters that can be folded and taken on as luggage.

4.2.6 The general ATOC policy also identifies various safety rules which passengers are asked to adhere to. It asks users to:

  • lower the speed of your mobility scooter to a brisk walking pace; make sure you stay clear of the platform edge until the train has come to a complete stand at the station;
  • unload any bags/shopping etc. from the mobility scooter, as this can cause the mobility scooter to tip when going up/down ramps;
  • if you have a folding mobility scooter, ensure that you are able to carry it without staff assistance when boarding and alighting from trains. Staff may not be available to help at many locations;
  • many stations have limited level access. Please make enquiries with the relevant train company before travelling;
  • before making any journey for the first time, contact the relevant train company to check what is possible on your chosen route; and
  • follow staff instructions at all times.

4.3 Light Rail

Midland Metro

4.3.1 Promoted by Centro and the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority, the £145 million Midland Metro opened in the summer of 1999. The Midland Metro route stretches 20.13 kilometres from Birmingham Snow Hill to Wolverhampton St George’s and runs, in the main, along an old Great Western Railway route. The system offers level boarding resulting in access for disabled people, parents with baby buggies and Senior Citizens. Each tram has 56 seats, can carry up to 208 passengers and has two dedicated wheelchair spaces.

4.3.2 Although it does not possess a formal policy, Midland Metro has nevertheless allowed carriage of mobility scooters for the past five years. Recently, however, there have been a number of incidents involving both three- and four-wheeled models where mobility scooters have tipped during travel which have resulted in a risk assessment being undertaken. The main problem identified is that when emergency brakes have been applied there have been examples where both three and four-wheeled models have tipped due to their high centre of gravity. In addition, the larger models park in front of the doors, especially when it is busy, which imposes a further safety concern.

4.3.3 Midland Metro has recently adopted an informal policy of advising staff not to allow the larger models on the trams due to safety concerns. However, Midland Metro is concerned that there will be repercussions of this decision from passengers and local councilors as it is a change in policy direction.

Croydon Tramlink

4.3.4 London Trams is responsible for managing the way tram services are provided in Croydon. The line is largely on a east-west axis through a central loop around Croydon. It supports on average 22 million passengers a year over a 28km (18.5 mile) tramway system.

4.3.5 Tramlink has been designed to be fully accessible to disabled passengers. All tram stops feature step-free access. At Wimbledon Station there are passenger lifts to provide connections to other rail services as well as to and from street level. To assist blind and partially sighted passengers, each stop has a tactile strip along its entire length, a safe distance from the platform edge.

4.3.6 The design of the tram makes special provision for disabled passengers. Wheelchair users can easily wheel on and off the trams and there is a space for them to travel in each section of the tram. Next to the wheelchair space is a specially sited intercom to speak to the driver in an emergency, and an easy reach stop request button. All doors have an opening button on them at an accessible height.

4.3.7 Croydon Tramlink does not have a formal policy regarding the carriage of mobility scooters. However, mobility scooters that are electrically powered are permitted on-board, but not fuel powered mobility scooters due to health and safety considerations.

Stagecoach Supertram

4.3.8 Stagecoach Supertram serves the city of Sheffield with three light rail routes covering 29km (50 per cent of the system is on street running with mixed traffic). The tram network links five park and ride sites with the city centre and provides access to the rail station, shopping areas, both of Sheffield’s universities, the Cathedral, sports arenas and other entertainment venues.

4.3.9 Pedestrian access to tram-stops has been intensively researched to ensure maximum case of access irrespective of passenger disabilities. Ergonomic studies have informed the layout features of the stops including two new types of tactile paving to locate the tram doors and define the platform edge, shallow approach ramps and differential coloured paving to indicate safe and unsafe areas. This has set the standard tram-stop layout to be adopted throughout the system but has created slight specific problems on-street due to lack of road width or adverse impacts on the threshold of adjacent premises. In these cases specific solutions, such as lowering the highway rather than building up the platform on the foot-way, have been adopted.

4.3.10 Although mobility scooters can be carried on Stagecoach Supertram, this is not documented in a formal policy. On-board conductors use their discretion to refuse entry based on the size or suitability of a mobility scooter that is being used on the system. The factors that can influence the decision include the physical size of the mobility scooter, the number of passengers already on board and the number of passengers expected to board. Staff are trained to offer guidance to mobility scooter users as to the safest position and area to park.

Tyne and Wear Metro

4.3.11 Nexus is the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive and administers funds on behalf of the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Authority. The Tyne and Wear Metro is the backbone of the area’s public transport network and supports 40 million journeys a year. Metro operates over 77km of route serving 58 stations. It was designed and built to be accessible to disabled passengers.

4.3.12 Tyne and Wear Metro state in its Disabled People’s Protection Policy (DPPP) that mobility scooters that are within the overall dimensions of 1,400mm long and 700mm wide are permitted so long as they do not have a rain cover. However, mobility scooter users are encouraged to contact the station beforehand as boarding assistance is not provided except in exceptional circumstances. Passengers can sit on their mobility scooter during their journey.

4.4 London Underground Limited (LUL)

4.4.1 London Underground is a major business, with over 3 million passenger journeys a day with 500 peak trains serving 275 stations. Many people cannot use the London Underground because they are unable to access the stations and trains. This is largely due to the age of the network, which was designed at a time when access for all was not an issue. However, there is a strategy ‘Unlocking London for All: our plans for a more accessible Underground network’ which sets out plans to improve and modernise the system to make it accessible.

4.4.2 It covers more than facilities for wheelchair users; many groups of customers or potential customers will benefit:

  • those who are permanently mobility impaired due to physical, mental or sensory disabilities;
  • those with temporary disabilities;
  • frail older people;
  • those travelling with luggage or heavy shopping; and
  • those accompanying young children.

4.4.3 There is no formal policy regarding the carriage of mobility scooters, although LUL are considering introducing one. However, at present, mobility scooters are allowed on the system without restrictions at stations where there is step free access.

4.5 Bus

Stagecoach Group

4.5.1 Stagecoach (which also includes Megabus and Oxford Tube) runs a fleet of around 8,000 buses and coaches which connect to 100 towns and cities in the UK. Two million passengers travel on Stagecoach services every day, using a network stretching from Devon to north of Inverness.

4.5.2 Every one of Oxford Tube coaches can carry a wheelchair. However, if the space is occupied the wheelchair must wait for the next coach. Megabus cannot accommodate wheelchairs.

4.5.3 Stagecoach Group do have a policy regarding the carriage of mobility scooters and that indicates that they are generally allowed on PSVAR compliant buses. However, the decision can be subject to size and the driver’s discretion.

Arriva Bus

4.5.4 Arriva is one of the UK’s largest bus operators with more than 6,000 vehicles providing services to customers in the North East, North West and South East of England, Yorkshire, the Midlands, Scotland and Wales. The Group is the largest bus operator in London, where they run over 1,400 buses under contract to Transport for London.

4.5.5 On wheelchair accessible buses, drivers will assist all customers with disabilities (not just wheelchair users), provided it is safe to do so.

4.5.6 Arriva Buses stated that its policy is not to carry mobility scooters based on their size. However, the company states that the policy will be reviewed if and when mobility scooters become available within the reference wheelchair size and specification 13 .

First Group

4.5.7 First Group is largest bus operator in the UK running more than 1 in 5 of all bus services and carrying 2.8 million passengers every day.

4.5.8 First Group indicated that they have a Disabled Passenger Access and Carriage Policy which describes its position on mobility scooters. In brief, the policy in the Bus Division is not to carry mobility scooters for health and safety reasons relating to their size, weight, fuel and stowage requirements.

Brighton & Hove Bus Company

4.5.9 Brighton & Hove Bus Company run a fleet of over 250 modern buses on local bus services as well as 10 luxury coaches. The buses run a network of local bus routes serving the conurbation of Brighton and Hove from Shoreham through to Newhaven as well as longer distance routes to Eastbourne, Lewes and Tunbridge Wells. Many of the buses come equipped with easy access low floors so that push chairs, prams and wheelchairs can be accommodated.

4.5.10 Brighton and Hove commented that its policy is not to accept mobility scooters, but only to accept battery-powered wheelchairs which are considered more maneuverable.

4.6 Coach

National Express

4.6.1 National Express is the largest scheduled coach service provider in Europe. In the UK, National Express coaches operate to 1000 destinations and carry over 16 million customers a year. National Express coach services also serve the major UK airports with additional dedicated ‘on-airport’ coach and bus services operated by Airlinks who are based at Heathrow and Gatwick.

4.6.2 National Express does have a policy for the carriage of mobility scooters. Passengers are requested to contact the Disabled Persons’ Helpline and inform the company when they wish to travel. They are also asked to identify the model of mobility scooter they posses to enable National Express to make sure that it can be accommodated. The passenger must also confirm that there will be someone available to assist with getting the mobility scooter in and out of the hold of the coach. Furthermore, if the mobility scooter is too large or cannot be unassembled, then they reserve the right to refuse carriage.

4.6.3 Passengers also cannot be carried on the mobility scooter during the course of the journey, as it must be stowed in the luggage hold. National Express indicate that even if passengers could travel on the mobility scooter, with current models they are uncertain as to whether the mobility scooter would have the strength to withstand the forces generated in an accident at 100kph.

4.7 Taxis

4.7.1 The Chairman of the National Taxi Association indicated that there is no existing policy and that carriage of mobility scooters is subject to drivers’ discretion based on health and safety considerations.

4.8 Summary

4.8.1 Feedback from the various public transport operators indicates that there is a great deal of confusion over whether to permit the carriage of mobility scooters. Most light and heavy rail operators are content to carry mobility scooters that fall within the size of the reference wheelchair. Tram operators are more likely to allow the carriage of all models. However, a number of incidents have occurred which has led to ad-hoc decisions to prohibit most larger models. Coach and bus operators do not generally accept mobility scooters based on health and safety considerations, while taxi drivers can use their own discretion. Most operators stated that there is not enough information regarding the risk associated with the carriage of mobility scooters and are waiting for guidance from the DfT prior to developing or amending a policy.

12 The most recent policy can be viewed at the following link:

13 This was the stated position of Arriva Buses at the time of the research. It appears that Arriva are not fully aware of the types of mobility scooters currently available.

Powered scooters

Can I take my powered scooter onboard a train?

Because scooters come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, many have problems on trains, including: tipping backwards on ramps; being heavier than the ramp’s safe working load; or being the wrong shape to manoeuvre safely inside a carriage.

These problems mean that some companies have trains that cannot carry scooters. So if you are a scooter-user who wants to travel by rail, you should contact the train company to check they can safely accommodate your scooter.

Please remember to contact us to confirm that all the stations and trains you want to use are accessible. If you require assistance please let us know at least 24 hours in advance.

Arriva Trains Wales

Telephone: 08453 003 005, 0870 410 0355

Policy: Scooter permit scheme. Please contact Arriva Trains Wales Customer Services.


Telephone: 01702 357 640, 08457 125 988

Policy: Length: 1200mm (3ft 11in approx*)

Width: 700mm (2ft 3in approx*)

Chiltern Railways

Telephone: 08456 005 165, 08457 078 051

Policy: Length: 1200mm (3ft 11in approx*)

Width: 700mm (2ft 3in approx*)


Telephone: 0844 811 0125, 0844 811 0126

Policy: Length: 1200mm (3ft 11in approx*)

Width: 700mm (2ft 3in approx*)

East Coast

Telephone: 08457 225 444, 08451 202 067

Policy: Length: 1200mm (3ft 11in approx*)

Width: 700mm (2ft 3in approx*)

East Midlands Trains

Telephone: 08457 125 678, 08457 078 051

Policy: Scooter permit scheme. Please contact East Midlands Trains Customer Services.

First Capital Connect

Telephone: 0800 058 2844, 0800 975 1052

Policy: A Scooter Permit is required. Please contact First Capital Connect Customer Relations to obtain a permit.

Max Length: 1200mm (3ft 11in approx*)

Max Width: 700mm (2ft 3in approx*)

Maximum combined weight of user and scooter: 300kg (660lbs*)

First Great Western

Telephone: 08001 971 329, 08002 949 209

Policy: Only scooters that are folded down and carried on as luggage can travel on our trains.

First Transpennine Express

Telephone: 0800 107 2149

Policy: You must have a FTPE scooter pass *

         A reservation to travel is required

         Scooters not permitted on all services, where permitted only valid on off-peak services between 09:30 – 16:00 and after 18:30 Monday-Friday; all day Saturday & Sunday

* PLEASE NOTE: Where travelling on FTPE services by scooter you must book before travel and possess a valid FTPE Scooter Permit approving the scooter for travel on FTPE services. Scooters cannot be accepted otherwise. Customers should call FTPE Assisted Travel Service on 0800 107 2149 for further information, to book and to apply for a Scooter Permit.

Gatwick Express

Telephone: 08458 501 530

Policy: Length: 1200mm (3ft 11in approx*)

Width: 700mm (2ft 3in approx*)

Grand Central

Telephone: 0845 603 4852

Policy: Length: 1200mm (3ft 11in approx*)

Width: 700mm (2ft 3in approx*)

Heathrow Express

Telephone: 0845 600 1515, 0121 410 5284

Policy: Mobility scooters are not allowed onboard our trains as the cannot be secured for the journey

Hull Trains

Telephone: 08450 710 222, 08456 786 967

Policy: Length: 1200mm (3ft 11in approx*)

Width: 610mm (2ft approx*)

Island Line


Telephone: 0800 528 2100, 0800 692 0792

Policy: Length: 1200mm (3ft 11in approx*)

Width: 700mm (2ft 3in approx*)

London Midland Trains

Telephone: 0800 092 4260, 0845 707 8051

Policy: Length: 1000mm (3ft 3in approx*)

Width: 700mm (2ft 3in approx*)

London Overground

Telephone: 08456 014 867, 08457 125 988

Policy: Length: 1200mm (3ft 11in approx*)

Width: 700mm (2ft 3in approx*)


Telephone: 08000 277 347, 0151 702 2071

Policy: Length: 1200mm (3ft 11in approx*)

Width: 700mm (2ft 3in approx*)

National Express East Anglia

Telephone: 08000 282 878, 0845 606 7245

Policy: Length: 1200mm (3ft 11in approx*)

Width: 700mm (2ft 3in approx*)

Northern Rail

Telephone: 08456 008 008, 08456 045 608

Policy: Only scooters that are folded down and carried on as luggage can travel on our trains.


Telephone: 0800 912 2901, 0800 912 2899

Policy: A Light Travel Scooter with the measurements below:

Length: 1040mm (3ft 5in approx*)

Width: 560mm (1ft 10in approx*)

Turning circle: 990mm (3ft 3in approx*)

Maximum combined weight of user and scooter: 300kg (660lbs*)


Telephone: 0800 138 1016, 0800 138 1018

Policy: Length: 1200mm (3ft 11in approx*)

Width: 700mm (2ft 3in approx*)

Maximum combined weight of user and scooter: 300kg (660lbs*)


Telephone: 08007 834 524, 08007 834 548

Policy: Mainline trains

Length: 1200mm (3ft 11in approx*)

Width: 700mm (2ft 3in approx*)

Metro services

Length: 1000mm (3ft 3in approx*)

Width: 700mm (2ft 3in approx*)

South West Trains

Telephone: 0800 528 2100, 0800 692 0792

Policy: Scooter permit scheme. Please contact South West Trains Customer Services.

Virgin Trains

Telephone: 08457 443 367

Policy: Length: 1200mm (3ft 11in approx*)

Width: 700mm (2ft 3in approx*)

Virgin Trains

Telephone: 08457 443 367

Policy: Length: 1200mm (3ft 11in approx*)

Width: 700mm (2ft 3in approx*)

Wrexham & Shropshire

Telephone & Textphone:

0845 260 5233

Policy: Length: 1200mm (3ft 11in approx*)

Width: 700mm (2ft 3in approx*)

Maximum combined weight of user and scooter: 300kg (660lbs*)

If using a fold up scooter without a ramp, you must be able to carry it on without staff help.

NOTE:- *The imperial measurements used are approximate and you should use metric measurements when deciding if your scooter can be taken onboard the train.

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