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UK bus and rail services failing those who need them most – older, vulnerable people

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

The National Pensioners’ Convention Transport Conference will hear how the decline in UK bus and rail services is creating a human rights crisis for our oldest and most vulnerable.

Experts will describe how changes and failures in our public transport system spell disaster for those who rely upon it most. They will also examine the dangers posed to them by the increasing number of e-scooters on our roads. (Full programme below).

Declining services ‘discriminate’ against our eldest

Our speakers include: Emily Yates, Association of British Commuters; Matthew Smith, Rail Accessibility; Fran Postlethwaite, NPC and the Campaign for Better Buses; and Les McDowell, NPC Transport Working Party. The event will be chaired by Derrick Baker, NPC Transport WP.

The conference follows the Better Buses National Week of Action (1st to 8th October) featuring events across the UK calling for increased funding for bus services.

NPC Transport Conference co-organiser Fran Postlethwaite said: “This is an important event at a critical time for our bus and rail services. The lack of government investment and increasing focus on profits over passenger needs has created a crisis that leaves millions without an accessible, inclusive and affordable public transport system.

“Our speakers and delegates will share evidence of the problems and the possible solutions. We hope to inspire and motivate people to press the government to introduce real improvements to the system.”

Disappearing or less frequent bus services are leaving older, vulnerable people isolated, which discriminates against them under current UK human rights, accessibility and inclusivity legislation. *(see below)

Similar legal and rights breaches will apply to our rail services if government plans to close almost a thousand ticket offices go head. The closures will force travellers to book tickets online – requiring access to a computer or smartphone which many older people do not have - or to use vending machines, that are often out of order and do not offer the best deals.

Worst of all, closing rail ticket offices and removing station staff will be a huge blow for those with mobility issues who require assistance to safely board or leave trains. It is an accepted and well-researched fact that older and vulnerable people value the presence of staff above all else for their safety and confidence to travel.

NPC Transport Working Party and rail safety expert Peter Rayner said: “The Equality Act 2010 requires public bodies (which include train operating companies) to ensure that existing or proposed policies, practices or decisions do not discriminate. The moves to de-staff stations, close ticket offices, close toilets, remove access to ticket purchase options other than online or through touch screen machines all clearly fall under the heading of policies that discriminate. There is no evidence that the legally required assessments into the impact of these policies on older and disabled people has been undertaken or that ‘reasonable adjustments’ to overcome the damaging effects of such policies have been considered. The NPC outlined our reasons in our response to the House of Commons Transport Committee inquiry on Accessible Transport: Legal Obligations.”

*Equality Act 2010 & Article 19 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The NPC Transport Conference will be held on Wednesday 18th October, from 10.30am - 3pm at St Aloysius Church Hall, 20 Phoenix Street, London, NW1 1TA, near Euston Station. Tickets are just £10 for the day and include a light buffet and refreshments. To book places for the event contact the NPC office (address below) with payment by Tuesday, 10th October 2023. Spaces are limited and will be on a first serve basis. Tickets will not be posted but can be collected at the registration desk. We will confirm by email or telephone that places for the conference have been reserved.

National Pensioners Convention Transport Conference Programme

10.30am – 3pm, Wednesday, 18th October 2023

St. Aloysius Church Hall, 20 Phoenix Street, London NW1 1TA (near Euston Station)

10.30 – RECEPTION – Registration, teas, and coffee.

11.00 – Opening Session & Welcome

Rail Services‘The National Crisis Threatening Our Human Rights’

Chair: Derrick Baker, NPC Transport Working Party

Speakers: Emily Yates, Association of British Commuters

Matthew Smith, Rail Accessibility.

12.30 - LUNCH

13.15 – Afternoon Sessions

Bus Services – ‘A Lifeline Service in Crisis & the Need for Better Buses’

Chair: Derrick Baker, NPC Transport Working Party

Speaker - Fran Postlethwaite

‘Campaigning to win the bus services we need’

14.15 - E-Scooters - ‘Time to put the brakes on?’

Chair: Derrick Baker, NPC Transport Working Party

Speaker: Les McDowell, NPC Transport Working Party

‘The issues and the critical need for solutions’

14.40 - NPC Transport Action Plan

Chair: Derrick Baker, NPC Transport Working Party

Speaker: Jan Shortt, General Secretary, NPC

‘Time for a national plan to ensure older, vulnerable people

can access safe, regular, and affordable travel’

15.00 – Conference ENDS

· Conference Tickets: £10, incl. Buffet Lunch –


or NPC, 62 Marchmont St. London WC1N 1AB

Download the press release

NEWS - NPC Transport Conference to seek travel crisis solutions - FINAL
Download DOCX • 58KB

Download the Transport Conference form

Transport WP Conference
Download PDF • 102KB


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