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Disabled students wanted to improve public transport

Prof Paul Herriotts and Kay Atkin

WANTED: Disabled students to undertake PhD studies and research to help make transport more accessible.

Coventry university is collaborating with national disability charity Motability to recruit and sponsor a number of doctoral candidates to undertake the research at the university’s National Transport Design Centre.

Kay Atkin is the first student to join the programme. She has a long-standing disability which resulted in the need for an adapted car.

She said: “I think it’s particularly important to ensure public transport is adapted for those who need to use it independently but currently can’t due to issues with accessibility and mobility.

“I want to help produce a solution that could realistically be rolled out within society and make a real and significant difference to people’s lives.”

The fully-funded studentships aim to address the issue by giving disabled people, and “those who have direct and frequent interactions with them”, the opportunity to train in the specialist area of transport design accessibility research, so they can bring both technical knowledge and lived experience to future transport policy and practice.

Paul Herriotts, Professor of Transport Design, said: “It’s crucially important that those who face daily challenges with mobility have the independence to be able to use public and private transport.

“We’re hoping to bring in more PhD students who, like Kay, have real-life experience of how challenging public transport can be for people with disabilities to use.

“We want to combine that real-world knowledge with unique research opportunities and our cutting-edge facilities to make a really profound difference to accessible transport.”

The application deadline for applicants to start on the programme in January 2022 is October 29.

MORE than half of disabled people said they were unlikely to return to using public transport after Covid-19. 

When asked by the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers, more than 60% said they felt uncomfortable using buses, trains, trams, coaches and taxis.

The results of their survey also demonstrated the limitations they face in the immediate future in conducting research into accessible transport, one of the key focuses of the charity’s work.

“More than a third of respondents (37.6%) told us they wouldn’t be willing to take part in research that involved travelling on public transport.”


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