Accessible and Inclusive Scotland for Wheelchair Users

previous arrow
next arrow

Smart Cities Transport (SCT) developed a Mobility as a Service software solution with Accessibility options for wheelchair users and people with limited mobility. The journey planning app was initially proposed for Scotland Transport MaaS Investment Fund and aims to help the Scottish Government tackle inequality, accessibility and mobility barriers. This Scotland Transport App is a customised and improved version of our white label hyperlocal journey planner which is currently released for Waverley Council in Sydney Australia.


Waverley Transport App is our hyperlocal MaaS solution providing multimodal journey options for customers to have a seamless travel experience. It is customised for the Waverley Council jurisdiction in Sydney Australia.

Our solution is a customer-facing Mobility-as-a-Service app (iOS, Android, and mobile web) that:

  • encourages the use of designated safe pick-up/drop-off zones;
  • enables multimodal trip planning that will increase transport options for customers and lessen the private cars usage;
  • integrates both public transport and privately owned shared transport service providers;
  • provides safe and continuous routes for prams, wheelchairs, and children on bicycles;
  • provides a range of journey options for a defined trip that includes total journey route, cost, and time;
  • calculates driving, cycling, and walking directions to the final destination including where a trip contains multiple segments and modes, and
  • provides electric vehicle (EV) charging points within a journey plan.

Additionally, we already have wheelchair-accessibility information on stops and services for the Waverley App.

As we take a look at Scottish Transport Statistics (2019), we considered the numbers and key points as part of the initial development process for the Scotland app.[1]

Road Traffic

  • 12.5% of driver journeys were delayed by congestion over the period of 2016-2018.
  • There has been a 15% decrease in pedal cycle traffic volume in the last five years
  • 78% of traffic were cars

Road Transport Vehicle

  • There were 2.99M vehicles licensed for use on the roads in Scotland in 2018, of which 83 per cent were cars.
  • Seventy-one per cent of households had access to one or more cars or vans in 2018; over a quarter (29%) of households had access to two or more cars or vans.

Personal and Cross-Modal Travel

  • 73% of people had travelled the previous day when asked in 2018, down from 79% in 2008.
  • Of the 515 million public transport journeys made in 2018, 73 per cent were by bus, 19 per cent were journeys by rail, air accounts for 6 per cent and ferries 2 per cent.
  • Thirty per cent of journeys to work and 74 per cent of journeys to school are by public and active travel.

For Scotland Transport: Wheelchair, Maps, Routeplanner, we envisage producing a positive outcome for Transport Scotland by reducing traffic congestion and lessening the number of cars on the road leading to a sustainable public transport system.

Accessible and Inclusive Transport is also one of our top priorities and understanding the importance of accessibility, inclusion and equality among disabled travellers in our society is vital.

[1] Scottish Transport Statistics No. 38 2019 Edition

Significance of Accessibility in Scotland [1]

Scottish Government disability awareness:

  • Around one-fifth of Scotland’s population – that’s one million people – define themselves as disabled. Yet disabled people often experience higher levels of inequality compared to their non-disabled peers.
  • Only about 50% of disabled people of working age are in work compared to 80% of non-disabled people of working age
  • Employment rates vary greatly according to the type of impairment a person has. People with a mental health condition considered a disability have the lowest employment rate of all impairment categories (21%). The employment rate for people with learning disabilities is 26%.

Disability is not a minority issue, as demonstrated by the following statistics:

  • Disabled people make up 10% of the world population, around 650 million people (Source: World Health Organisation).
  • 39 million disabled people in Europe (Source: CSR Europe).
  • 11 million disabled people in Britain (Source: Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit).
  • Over 7 million people or 18% of the working-age population in Britain are disabled as defined by the Equality Act 2010 (Source: Employers’ Forum on Disability).
  • Only 17% of disabled people were born with their disabilities (Source: Institute for Public Policy Research article Work for disabled people).
  • 2% of the working-age population becomes disabled every year, 78% of disabled people acquire their impairment aged 16 or older (Source: Employers’ Forum on Disability).
  • One in six people of the working-age population (aged 16 to 64) in Europe has either a long-standing health problem or a disability (Source: Employers Forum on Disability).
  • 25% of the entire population is either directly or indirectly affected by a disability (Source: UN and World Bank).

General Facts and Figures:

  • The most common types of impairment for adults in Britain are those associated with difficulty in mobility, lifting and carrying
  • The occurrence of disability increases with age – around 1 in 20 children are disabled, compared to around 1 in 7 working-age adults and almost 1 in 2 people over state pension age
  • One in four disabled people have two impairments and one in ten have three or more impairments.
  • The likelihood of multiple impairments increases with age.

In 2019, the ‘Going the Extra Mile’ experiment “enlisted the help of five wheelchair users who tested five popular commuter journeys in London in an effort to raise awareness of accessibility issues on public transport.”

This travel experiment reveals dire commutes for wheelchair users. [2]

  • With only 77 out of 270 stations fully accessible for wheelchair users, London’s transport options are often very limited for people with disabilities
  • Planning the journey is a challenge in itself– Cross-checking several different apps seems to be the norm although participants find most of these unreliable or inaccurate.
  • Commutes are paved with obstacles

[1] Facts on Disability

[2] New travel experiment reveals dire commutes for wheelchair users

How to Bridge the Gap

  1. Scotland’s National Transport Strategy, provides an overview of one of the four priorities of NTS2. [1]“Everyone in Scotland will share in the benefits of a modern and accessible transport system”:

  • Provide fair access to services needed

  • Easy to use for all

  • Affordable for all

  1. The Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS) was established in 2002 and is an advisory non-departmental public body. The Convener and Members are appointed by the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity. The role of MACS is set out in the Act as being to:

  • consider matters about the needs of disabled persons in connection with transport that the committee think are appropriate;

  • advise the Scottish Ministers about those matters that the committee think are appropriate. [2]

  1. Disability Equality Scotland (DES) is created as a membership organisation for disabled people and disability groups and organisations. They gather information about the experiences of accessibility, inclusion and equality, both good and bad. The information helps them assess the information and data when they meet with key decision-makers who are responsible for ensuring equality and human rights are in place with policies and the law.[3]

  2. Smart Cities Transport (SCT) develops a Mobility-as-a-Service solution- Scotland Transport: Wheelchair, Maps, Routeplanner that will help the Government to tackle inequality, accessibility and mobility barriers.

Our MaaS technical solution is a multi-modal transport app, including information on wheelchair-accessible rail stations, bus services, and public toilets, and accessible parking. This will be a great aid to fostering better mobility options.

Benefits of Using Scotland MaaS for Wheelchair Users

Using Scotland Transport: Wheelchair, Maps, Routeplanner can make travelling easier for people with limited movement. It can aid with every aspect of travelling from planning to actual travel and looking for better ways of navigating around new places.


  • Planning and Preparing

  • advanced planning of the journey, using the app

  • information about the physical access to the mode of transport

  • availability of passenger boarding assistance

  • Transport and Direction

  • multi-modal transport app, including information on wheelchair-accessible rail stations, bus services, bicycle routes, pedestrians, accessible parking.

  • integrated, seamless end to end journey for travellers including disabled travellers.

  • integrate a sustainable transport system which promotes walking, wheeling, cycling and public transport options and information

  • Finding Amenities

  • Accessible Parking

  • Public Toilets

  • Pedestrians

Our solution also caters for all modes of transport including emerging transport such as electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles. Sharing the optimal journey routes with emerging transport modes will lead to less congestion in roads and helps Transport Scotland achieve its sustainability goals.Through regular improvements to the app, we can include more useful information such as real-time data (where available) and travel updates. We want wheelchair users to continue finding the app useful for planning accessible journeys.

For the app itself, we will be measuring retention rate and reported issues and to gauge the success and impact in enabling wheelchair users to plan accessible journeys.

This journey planner is a customer-facing Mobility-as-a-Service app (iOS, Android, and mobile web).

[1] National Transport Strategy: Reduces inequalities

[2] Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS)

[3] About Disability Equality Scotland