Clause 85 - Consent requirement for services resembling taxis or private hire vehicles

Part of Automated Vehicles Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:45 pm ar 19 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Simon Lightwood Simon Lightwood Shadow Minister (Transport) 2:45, 19 Mawrth 2024

New clause 2, tabled in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Sefton Central, sets out that the accessible format of AVs being used as public transport will be set out in regulations. That would bring AVs in line with section 17 of the Bus Services Act 2017. It is similar to amendment 10 but has a wider scope. The requirement to consult with Welsh and Scottish Ministers would increase the transparency of the regulations to allow for proper scrutiny.

As I mentioned in the previous debate, we do not know what this technology is going to be used for or exactly how it is going to develop. We need to ensure that it will be accessible to disabled people no matter what the use case. Again, as I mentioned when speaking to amendment 10, disabled people are mentioned only in clause 87. That makes the Bill nowhere near clear or detailed enough.

For people with sight loss who use passenger services, both identifying and reaching a vehicle at the start of a journey and leaving it and making their way to a destination at the end of a journey can be difficult, even with a human driver to assist. It is important to reiterate that, as with amendment 10, there needs to be a clear and consistent standard for AVs when they are used as public transport, to make their location clear to passengers with sight loss when they make a pick-up—for example, with an audible signal. They should also be equipped to provide clear directions to get a passenger from a vehicle to their destination. During the journey there may be instances when a passenger needs to give further input to the automated driving system or remote operator. For instance, if a vehicle is delayed or diverted, a passenger may be asked whether they wish to continue their journey or stop at an alternative destination. The information must be presented in an accessible format that does not require the visual cues of a map or sight of the situation outside a vehicle to respond to.

As I mentioned when speaking to amendment 10, the UK currently has a 38% accessibility transport gap, which means that disabled people as defined under the Equality Act 2010 take 38% fewer trips than those without disabilities. That is linked to the point about disability groups being embedded in the process and consulted from the start, not only in respect of the statement of safety principles but throughout the Bill’s implementation and the establishment of an advisory council.