Disability Discrimination Act and transport services
People with disabilities have protection when using transport services. The Disability Discrimination Act (1995) makes it unlawful for service providers to treat people with disabilities less favourably than someone without a disability.
Public transport in Northern Ireland
Translink is the main provider of public transport in Northern Ireland. Its Metro (Belfast) bus services use low floor, wheelchair accessible vehicles. Each has visual displays and audio announcements so passengers know which stop is coming next.
Trains are usually easier to board and many stations have step free access. However, some stations and some Ulsterbus and Goldline vehicles have steps.
If you need any assistance when travelling call the Translink contact centre at least 24 hours before you travel to make sure you can get the information and assistance that you need.
- Translink contact centre: 028 9066 6630
- Irish Rail - contact about accessibility on trains
- National Rail - information for passengers with disabilities
Free or half fares for bus and rail
If you have a disability you may be able to get free or discounted bus and railway travel within Northern Ireland.
The Consumer Council
The Consumer Council has information about your legal rights when travelling with a disability or reduced mobility on public transport. It can also advise you if you've experienced a delay or cancellation and help you make a complaint with Translink.
Travelling by ferry
Most ferry ports and ferry companies must provide assistance to passengers with a disability or reduced mobility.
The Consumer Council has information on access to ferry travel for people with disabilities and those who are less mobile.
Travelling by air
When you travel by air, always let your airline, travel agent or tour operator know if you need any extra help at the airport or on the plane.
The Consumer Council has information for air passengers who need special assistance when travelling. It also has information about additional charges airlines might charge you and help to let you to make informed decision when arranging travel. You can also find out about your rights as an air passenger.
At the airport
To allow airlines and airports to make any necessary arrangements for your journey, if you have a disability or reduced mobility you should give them as much notice as possible.
This usually means telling them about your needs when you are making your flight booking - generally at least 48 hours beforehand.
Each of the main airports in Northern Ireland have information for passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility on their websites:
- Special Assistance - Belfast International Airport
- Special Assistance - George Best Belfast City Airport
- Special Assistance - City of Derry Airport
If you plan to fly out of Dublin airport, visit the help and support section on its website:
The Civil Aviation Authority also has information about your rights and how to get special assistance at airport if you have a disability.
Assistance dogs and air travel
If you want to take your guide dog on the plane with you, always tell the airline about this beforehand. The airline can ask the owner to produce proof that the dog has been trained by a recognised organisation.
Travelling by car
Having a medical condition or disability does not necessarily mean you cannot or will not be allowed to drive. You must let the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) know about any medical condition or disability that may affect your driving.
Disabled Motoring UK is a charity for drivers with disabilities, passengers and Blue Badge holders.
Accessible parking bays
An accessible parking bay is a reserved space on the public road for use by Blue Badge holders only. They are also known as disabled parking bays and most are provided along with other on-street parking. In some circumstances you can apply for a bay near your home or work.
Drivers of taxis are under a duty to carry any guide, hearing or certain other assistance dogs in their vehicles. They cannot charge extra for this.
Pet Travel Scheme
If you want to take your dog with you on an international trip, the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) could help you avoid long quarantine periods for your dog when you return to the UK.
More useful links
- Tourism for All website
- Accessible Travel NI
- Blue Badge scheme
- Travel health and the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
- Action on Hearing Loss
- Canine Partners