Specifically, the toolkit provides operators in England and Wales with a high-level guide on what they must do to comply with passenger rights regulations, as well as recommendations on how maritime transport can be made more accessible.
It will apply to services such as ferries operating from Liverpool and makes recommendations on how maritime transport can be made more accessible to make journeys better for disabled passengers and staff.
The toolkit covers the whole journey experience- from accessing information at the booking stage through to arriving at their destination- highlighting the challenges people with visible or hidden disabilities may face while travelling by sea, further providing guidance to support all the relevant regulations and will help the industry to comply with them.
In fact, the Maritime Minister, Nusrat Ghani, announced the publication of the Passenger Rights toolkit during a visit to Liverpool on Wednesday, 22 January, where she met key stakeholders including Mersey Maritime; Wirral Waters and the Port of Liverpool.
The Maritime Minister said that
I am delighted to be launching our Passenger Rights toolkit today in Liverpool which shows how making small changes has the potential to make a huge impact on the lives of disabled passengers.
Nusrat Ghani added that “this is one of the commitments set out in our Inclusive Transport Strategy, and I am proud we are leading the way with this work to complement the UN’s sustainable development goals - helping make the world more inclusive for disabled people.”
Lastly, the Maritime Minister encouraged as many operators as possible to support the vision to make sure disabled people have the same access to transport as everyone else.
It is said that the development of the toolkit was a commitment in the Inclusive Transport Strategy, published in July 2018, and sets out the government’s ambition for disabled people to have the same access to transport.
It is added that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) will conduct inspections on operators and ports in order to ensure compliance with passenger rights regulations, noting that they can be prosecuted in the courts and fined if they don’t comply.
It was at the end of 2018, when the MCA carried out its first survey of disabled passengers’ experience when travelling by sea and the results were used to inform the recommendations made in this toolkit.
The department worked closely with the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) and industry representatives including the UK Chamber of Shipping and British Ports Association in its development.
Now, Keith Richards, chair of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) welcomed the launch of this toolkit and said that the DPTAC “will help the industry deliver better access for disabled people, not just by bringing some much-needed clarity to what the law already requires on accessibility, but by promoting ideas on what good practice looks like,” stressing that
This will help the industry tap into a large and growing market of disabled people who simply want to spend their money on maritime services and have the confidence to enjoy the same access as everyone else.
Bob Sanguinetti, Chief Executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping, commented that “it should be a basic entitlement that everyone has the option to travel independently,” as they “will work with our members to ensure disabled passengers travelling by ship have the same access as everyone else.”
It wasn't long ago since a survey by Maritime & Coastguard Agency gave a snapshot of disabled people's experiences on cruise and ferry ships. The survey said that while ferry and cruise ship passengers were more likely to experience problems getting assistance if they have a disability that is not immediately visible.
Namely, over 70% of disabled passengers who use cruise ships responded that they are happy with their experience on board. However, on the other hand, ferry users were less happy with 56% saying their experience had been a good one.
The survey was conducted by the MCA to find out from disabled passengers and those of reduced mobility, what their experience of transport was and how effective the provision of assistance has been when using ferries or cruise ships.