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Getting out and about

Going out shopping, and visiting family and friends are important activities for everyone. 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:

If you need a car or similar powered vehicle to get around, you may be able to get help with the costs.

Find out about:

Using public transport with a disability

All public transport must be accessible for disabled passengers. Public transport vehicles also have to accept guide dogs or assistance dogs.

It’s worth contacting the transport operator before you travel to make sure they offer the help you need.

Buses and trains usually have:

  • priority seating for older people and people with disabilities
  • space and wide doors for wheelchairs

Where buses, trains and trams do not have automatic ramps, you will need to ask station staff to fit them for you.

The London Underground is being upgraded to improve step-free access. This upgrade will take time and parts of the underground are still inaccessible for people with mobility problems.

Both the Docklands Light Railway and London trams are entirely step-free.

You can also Plan a step-free route with Transport for London.

Discounts on public transport for older people and disabled people

Free travel on local buses in England is available:

  • between 9.30am and 11pm Monday to Friday
  • at any time during the weekend and on bank holidays

Some councils offer free travel for longer periods. Some also let a companion travel with the pass holder for free.

Apply for a bus pass

Apply for an older person’s bus pass

Apply for a disabled person’s bus pass.

Apply for a Freedom Pass (London)

Regular train travellers can also apply for Disabled Person’s Railcard. This gives you a third off the price of rail tickets.

See Disabled Railcard.

Taxi and private hire companies can provide wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Let them know when you book your taxi.

NHS help with travel and transport costs

You may need help getting to and from hospital appointments, and with transport costs if you’re on a low income. Help with travel costs can include hospital transport.

Hospital travel scheme

If you're referred to hospital or other NHS premises for specialist NHS treatment or diagnostic tests by:

  • a doctor
  • dentist
  • another primary care health professional

and you get:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • you get Universal Credit and meet the criteria

you may be able to claim a refund of reasonable travel costs.

See Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme HTCS).

NHS low income support scheme

If you can't get help through HTCS, the NHS Low Income Scheme could help. Ask for form HC1 from your local hospital.

If a doctor confirms that the person you look after needs someone to travel with them, you can claim your travel costs under this scheme.

Community transport schemes

Vehicle road tax exemption and reduction

If you’re disabled or have a serious long-term condition, you may be exempt from vehicle excise duty (known as road tax or car tax). It’s worth noting that mobility scooters and "class 3" powered wheelchairs (limited to 8mph or 4mph on pavements) are exempt from vehicle excise duty.

You’ll qualify for tax exemption if you’re eligible for the higher rate of the mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA), enhanced rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), or War Pensioner's Mobility Supplement.

The vehicle must be registered in your name and can be only be used for your benefit. You can nominate someone else to drive for you, but they cannot use the vehicle for their own personal needs.

You apply for exemption from road tax when you apply for your road tax online, or by phone or at a post office.

If you get PIP at the standard mobility rate, you will be eligible for a reduction in road tax. You will have to apply directly to the DVLA for a road tax reduction.

Blue Badge disabled parking scheme

If you have severe mobility problems that make using public transport difficult, you may be able to get a "Blue Badge" parking permit for your car. This lets you park closer to places you wish to visit, such as in marked disabled parking bays.

You may also be able to:

  • park for free within certain time limits in some places 
  • park on single and double yellow lines 
  • stay longer in on-street time-limited parking bays

Blue Badge schemes are run by councils, and most will let you apply for a Blue Badge online. Central London is exempt from the national Blue Badge regulations and the central London boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Camden, Westminster and City of London do not fully operate the Blue Badge scheme.

However, if you are exempt from road tax or have a Blue Badge permit, you may be able to get an exemption from paying the central London congestion charge.

Motability scheme

The Motability scheme allows some disabled people getting DLA, PIP or War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement to obtain a car, powered wheelchair or scooter.

The scheme uses some or all of your mobility benefit payments to cover the cost of "contract hire" or "hire purchase" of an appropriate vehicle. You can also pay an extra amount of money if you want a more expensive vehicle.

With hire purchase, the price of the car will be agreed directly with the Motability dealer, and you will own the vehicle outright at the end of the agreement.

With contract hire, you won’t own a vehicle, but you will get a new car every three years, full insurance for the driver and passengers, servicing, maintenance and repairs, vehicle excise duty, replacement tyres and breakdown cover.

Adaptations to the car can be made if needed, although there may be an extra charge for some adaptations. Under the Motability scheme, cars can also be adapted for people in wheelchairs.

If you don't need or want a car, you can transfer your allowance to lease a scooter or powered wheelchair.

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