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The charity Motability has launched a competition to find partners to run a £20 million Motability-funded evidence centre dedicated to making transport accessible for disabled people.

Launching in January 2023, the evidence centre aims to close the transport accessibility gap. The gap sees disabled people make 38 percent fewer journeys than non-disabled people every year due to problems accessing public and private transport – a figure that hasn’t changed in a decade, according to Department for Transport (DfT) statistics.

The plans are being revealed as Motability releases new analysis showing that making transport fully accessible to disabled people would deliver £72.4bn of socio-economic benefit to the UK every year through improved access to employment, training, education and social opportunities.

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Disabled people told the charity that they had had to turn down training opportunities because they could not use public transport alone, they could no longer use A-roads due to a lack of public toilets, and that they could not travel out of their local area.

Problems accessing transport contribute to wide-ranging disadvantages for disabled people, the charity underlines. Research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2013 revealed that one quarter of working age disabled people cite inaccessible transport as a key barrier to employment.

However, there is a lack of specific evidence about how best to build in accessibility from the start, particularly for new and emerging modes of transport like electric and autonomous vehicles.

Now, the charity is planning to launch an Evidence Centre for inclusive transport, which it will fund with £20 million over seven years.

The centre will demonstrate what needs to happen for people with a wide range of disabilities to be able to access transport, how existing good practice can be scaled up, and where new innovations are needed. It will convene disabled people with decision-makers and transport providers so that findings can be put into practice.

Motability will appoint a consortium of expert partners to run the evidence centre and is encouraging organisations with a wide range of expertise to apply.

Barry Le Grys, Chief Executive of Motability the charity, said: “Being unable to make the journeys they want to has a huge impact on disabled people’s lives, from getting a job to attending medical appointments and seeing friends and family.

“While there are existing solutions to which help make transport accessible, the fact that the accessibility gap hasn’t improved in a decade shows that much more needs to be done so that disabled people can travel across road, rail, air and sea like non-disabled people.

“After extensive scoping, we believe that the scale of the research, innovation and collaboration needed to close the transport accessibility gap merits significant investment. We’re looking for partners who can work with us to run the world’s first Evidence Centre for inclusive transport, delivering quick wins as well as longer-term solutions to make transport accessible for all disabled people.”

To apply to run the Evidence Centre and find out more information, visit the Motability charity website.

Motability is a national charity set up with all-party parliamentary support in 1977 and incorporated by Royal Charter.

Motability the charity sets the strategic policies and direction of the Motability Scheme. The Motability Scheme enables a disabled person to use all or part of their higher rate mobility allowance to pay for the lease of a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair, with insurance, road tax, servicing, tyres and breakdown cover all included.

The day-to-day running of the scheme is delivered by an independent commercial company, Motability Operations, under an exclusive contract with Motability.

Currently, the charity is searching for a Grant Programme Manager in South East England. Find out more about the role and how to apply here.

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