Coronavirus: information and updates

Accessible transport and planning journeys

Finding accessible transport and getting travel updates can help you to feel more confident about travelling on your own. Planning how you might ask staff for support or other passengers for a seat might also help.

Warning Coronavirus and face masks on public transport

Most people on public transport must wear non-medical face masks to protect other passengers. This is the law and you can be fined if you do not wear a mask.

But there are exemptions if you cannot wear a mask. These include:

  • you cannot put on, wear or remove a mask because you are disabled, have a medical condition or mental health condition
  • putting on, wearing or removing a face covering would cause you severe distress
  • you are travelling with or assisting someone who relies on lip-reading to communicate

If you need to eat, drink or take medication, you can remove your face mask to do this.

Face masks 

Coronavirus: safer travel guidance for passengers (GOV.UK)

People who do not have to wear a face mask (GOV.UK)

Exemption cards and badges (GOV.UK)

'Please give me space' social distancing cards and badges (GOV.UK)

Planning your travel

All public transport providers must provide an accessible service for disabled people.

Finding accessible transport

Starting to travel on your own

Leaving extra time will mean that you have more choices if something goes wrong on your journey.

What to do when something goes wrong on your journey

Sometimes you may need a staff member to support you. You have different rights depending on whether you’re on a train, taxi, bus or coach.

Rights of disabled passengers (GOV.UK)

Trains and assistance

You can book your assistance after you book your ticket. You can ask the train company for:

  • a priority seat
  • someone to meet you when you arrive at the station and help you get to your platform
  • someone to help you on and off the train and on to your next train or to the station exit
  • a ramp to help you on or off the train
  • help carrying bags or luggage

You should be able to book assistance by telephone or online. Your booking will confirm what assistance you’ve asked for.

You may find that booking assistance by telephone is more reliable. Being able to book online does not always mean that there will be staff available. It can be helpful to telephone and check your booked assistance, particularly if you’re travelling through a smaller station.

Booking train assistance and what to do if it does not turn up

Talking to transport staff

All transport providers have a duty to provide an accessible service. There are different standards for trains, taxis, buses and planes.

If you do the same journey regularly, building relationships with staff and thanking them can help. Try to be:

  • clear about what you need (staff may not know)
  • firm and polite

Asking staff for help on public transport

If staff do not give you the help that you need, you may want to challenge them or complain.

Complaining about public transport

Travel updates

There is no single place to get travel updates for disabled travellers.

You can use travel apps such as National Rail and UK Bus Tracker or Twitter to get alerts to some changes that will affect you.

Getting updates to changes to your journey

Some information, such as broken lifts or accessible toilets, is not available through travel apps. You will need to telephone or email the transport company or station. If you’re travelling by train, you can also check National Rail Enquiries.

Last-minute journeys

You may need to travel without much notice. This will mean that you have less time to plan, but there are still things you can do.

You can use some bus, train and underground networks without needing to book help. If you do need help at a station or interchange, many transport companies will let you book assistance on the day by going to their website.

Plan what you can, pack what you need and have a backup plan.

Preparing for a last-minute journey


If planning journeys on public transport is difficult for you, you could think about using the Motability Scheme to pay for the costs of leasing a car, scooter or powered wheelchair.

You are eligible to join the Motability Scheme if you’ve been awarded either the:

  • higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for 12 months or more
  • the enhanced rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for 12 months or more

To join the scheme, you will need to pay using the components of these benefits. The scheme pays for insurance, breakdown cover and vehicle tax. The scheme can pay for some driving lessons. It does not pay for fuel.

Driving and Motability

Last reviewed by Scope on: 16/06/2020

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