Press Release: Disabled People to Finally Catch the Bus - Victory for Disabled People on Bus and Coach Directive

All newly purchased buses throughout the European Union must be fully accessible to people with disabilities according to the Directive. This was the result of nine years of campaigning by disabled people, together with the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament. Internet publication URL: www.independentliving.org/docs1/pr20010216.html

Background to the decision below: nine years of fighting by the European disability movement.

DISABILITY INTERGROUP
INTERGROUPE HANDICAPES
INTERGRUPPE BEHINDERTE MENSCHEN

Chair
Richard Howitt MEP (PSE)
Vice Chairs
Bartho Pronk MEP (PPE), Rodi Kratsa MEP (PPE), Dieter Koch MEP (PPE), Jan Andersson MEP (PSE), Carmen Cerdeira MEP (PSE), Liz Lynne MEP (ELDR), Brian Crowley MEP (UEN) Alain Esclopé MEP (EDD), Ilda Figueiredo MEP (GUE), Patricia McKenna MEP (VERT)

Brussels, 16 February 2001

The 14 February 2001 marked a historic victory for disabled people in securing a winning vote at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the 'Bus and Coach Directive'* which will mean all buses in the European Union will have to be fully accessible for disabled people. The Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament together with disabled people in Europe have been campaigning on this Directive for the last nine years; a Directive of great importance to all disabled people in Europe.

The successful outcome follows a dramatic, last ditch attempt by a large group of MEPs to vote against this very important Directive and vote down the Council common position. The Rapporteur of the Parliament Report, Bill Miller MEP and the members of the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament led by Chair Richard Howitt MEP together with the European disability movement launched an intensive campaign to save this Directive from defeat. The vote was won by 296 votes: 224

Of particular importance is that the European Parliament voted in favour of a key amendment to the Directive to guarantee level access to all new buses in urban areas for persons with reduced mobility including wheelchair users negotiated by the Disability Intergroup Chair, Richard Howitt MEP and Rapporteur Bill Miller MEP. "to achieve level access requires a boarding aid -a lift or a ramp - because a low-floor bus on its own is not enough" said Richard Howitt MEP during the plenary debate.

This amendment requires that all urban buses must be fitted with a kneeling system in combination with a ramp or lift unless local infrastructure design already guarantees level access to secure boarding.

The Disability Intergroup and the European Disability Forum strongly calls on the Council to support the Parliament report and the amendment on boarding aids in the final approval stage in the next two weeks.

[*full title "Special provisions for vehicles used for carriage of persons comprising more than eight seats in addition to the driver's seat"]

President - Richard Howitt MEP,
European Parliament tel:+ 322 284 7477, fax:+ 322 284 9477, e-mail: rhowitt@europarl.eu.int
Secretariat: Sophie Beaumont, tel: +(32 2) 282 46 02, fax: + (32 2) 282 46 09 e-mail: ep@edf-feph.org

English