The new Urban Mobility Framework. How we can make public transport more accessible for persons with disabilities

The new Urban Mobility Framework. How we can make public transport more accessible for persons with disabilities

The EU has already adopted a set of rules and laws for better accessibility of transport, including most notably rail transport and passengers’ rights for air, rail, road, and waterborne transport. However, there is still a gap regarding urban public transport where the rules are mostly made on national or even regional and local level. We are trying to change this with the EU’s upcoming Urban Mobility Framework!

The EU is currently collecting information for a  new Urban Mobility Framework, following an evaluation of the 20213 Urban Mobility Package and a Roadmap published earlier in 2021, which has as a primary goal to reduce emissions and improve sustainability of the public transport systems. It will also propose actions to implement the objectives of the Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy. We contributed to the public consultation (see our response below) and focused on a few areas where we see the best potential for improving accessibility and inclusiveness for persons with disabilities:

  • For urban mobility to be more sustainable, public transport  needs to be accessible. Facing demographic change, a more accessible transport network is essential for the coming years. Stronger EU legislation is needed to meet this goal.
  • But mobility is not only about public transport, it also concerns the urban environment. Beside buses, trams, and shared mobility solutions the EU needs to include availability of parking spots designated for persons with disabilities, a strict policy on abuse of blocking parking spots of persons with disabilities, accessibility of the city’s walking and cycling infrastructure, including quality and accessibility of pavements, secure and accessible road crossings, and a  policy on restricting blocked pavements.
  • Furthermore, mobility also goes beyond infrastructure: information, including in digital formats such as websites and mobile applications, also needs to become more accessible.

It is not clear yet what kind of (legislative) tools the Commission will propose in order to achieve more sustainable urban mobility. More details will be included in the Communication following the public consultation. But we have of course already some ideas. Here is what we recommend:

  • Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) already exist as a tool to make cities more sustainable. SUMPs should be obligatory for all towns and cities  and they should include accessibility requirements. Persons with disabilities and their representative organisations should be consulted systematically both on a local and national level about their needs;
  • Intersectional approach to urban planning: it is important to consider other barriers which person with disabilities can encounter when trying to access public transport. For example in cities like Brussels, the fact that self-ticketing machines are not accessible for all persons with disabilities can result in a financial loss for passengers with disabilities because it is more expensive to buy a ticket from the bus driver than a ticketing machine at the stop. So, affordability of accessible public transport is also important. Women, LGBTI or racialized persons with disabilities can face further barriers due to pubic harassment or personal safety concerns when using public transport.
  • Public procurement: This is partly covered by the Public Procurement Directive but there should be clearer rules for accessibility requirements of public transport vehicles, infrastructure, and ticketing machines. Currently, each city procures its own vehicles and the requirements are not harmonized or aligned, resulting in the purchase of inaccessible vehicles and waste of public money. The wheel does not have to be reinvented every time, the technical solutions exist but there is a mismatch between the specifications in the call for tenders, the manufacturers’ proposals, and the reality of persons with disabilities that needs to be fixed.

Following the Commission’s public consultation which closed on 23 September, the Commission plans to adopt a Communication on the new Urban Mobility Framework in the third quarter of 2021.

EDF reply to EC consultation on the Urban Mobility Framework



Marie Denninghaus – Policy Coordinator