Accessibility Solutions 2018 Spring Newsletter


Accessibility Solutions 2018 Spring Newsletter
It’s been some time since the last update but Accessibility Solutions has been working ceaselessly to further our mission of Universal access to essential goods and services by any mode or means by capitalising on some of the opportunities that change inevitably presents…

Accessibility Solutions’ market proposition has three core elements with two more in development-

  • Accessibility Solutions provides interim leadership capacity for public service commissioners, as well as providers; recent assignments have included Chief Executive level resource for a number of transport operators, a Directorship for Healthwatch and strategic transport management for a London Borough
  • Accessibility Solutions delivers technical consultancy and training to both service commissioners and providers. We have supported over 20 transport providers to develop new delivery models, as well as ensuring compliance with regulatory frameworks
  • Accessibility Solutions realises financial, social and environmental benefits that result from implementation of our business transformation model. In 2017 alone, we directly secured over £50K external investment for our clients and helped to achieve internal efficiencies of over £500K
  • Accessibility Solutions is developing Accessibility as a Service, a Mobility as a Service solution for rural communities ( ) ; and a social care personalisation model…more of which in the future

So, what are the current changes…and how Accessibility Solutions can help clients to respond?

  1. Proposed changes to Community Transport Permit Regulations
    With potentially seismic effects, the Department for Transport announced a consultation process regarding changes to Section 19 and Section 22 Minibus Permits; having met with EU Commissioners in Brussels in 2015 to represent UK providers, we are keen to support the response as we believe community transport is a vital element in achieving our core mission, “Universal access to essential goods and services by any mode or means”.
    As such we have been supporting the Mobility Matters campaign ( ) by enabling and attending a meeting with Jesse Norman MP, Secretary of State for Roads, Local Transport and Devolution together with Mobility Matters and DfT officials. We have also been working with the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transports’ Accessibility and Inclusion Forum on a submission of evidence to the Transport Select Committee which conducted an Inquiry into the CT permit matter before Christmas.
    We are keen to support community transport providers through the impending permit changes by developing and delivering your Benefits Realisation Programme; we can provide transition management to O licence status, compliance with S19/S22 exemptions, trading subsidiaries, an outsourced Transport Manager as well as a range of other support.

    Commissioners and Providers of Section 19 and 22 services should contact Accessibility Solutions now to prepare for the outcomes of the Permit Review

  2.  Bus Services Act
    The Bus Services Act offers an opportunity for UK transport commissioners to franchise concession-based bus networks. Fortunately, with great strategic foresight we received investment following a competitive process to research the franchise-based Dutch public transport system in 2012, and as a result have developed an integrated model that spreads cost/risk across the concession. It features a two-tiered structure that enables providers to subcontract marginal services to smaller, lower cost vehicle networks which not only reduces risk to commissioners and passengers but also locks investment in the local community.

    Commissioners and Providers of local bus services should contact Accessibility Solutions now to prepare for the opportunities that the Bus Services Bill presents

  3. More pressure on local authority budgets
    As pressure on local authority budgets continues, Accessibility Solutions supports Councils by improving the efficiency of transport networks; Home to School, Special Educational Needs, Community Transport and local bus services are reviewed and re-provisioned more cost effectively. This includes policy, eligibility and entitlement reviews, network re-design, stakeholder engagement, resource planning and budget management as well as locking down the transformational redesign into a business as usual, sustainable model.

    Commissioners of transport services should contact Accessibility Solutions now to discuss how we can achieve your short, medium and long-term budget targets.

Accessibility Solutions 2018 Spring Newsletter

Campaign to Challenge the DfT’s Changes to s19 and s22 Legislation

Campaign to Challenge the DfT’s Proposed Changes to s19 and s22 Legislation

Important Message to all UK operators of s19 and s22 minibuses

We are a collective of UK Community Transport operators who are greatly concerned by the implications of DfT’s letter to the sector on 31st July. We feel that the implications of the letter – if enforced – would have a catastrophic impact on the CT sector and its ability to provide essential transport to the individuals and communities that we serve.

We have launched a campaign to challenge this proposal and we invite you to join us. At this moment the CT sector needs to use a unified voice and harness a collective energy to make the necessary impact to ensure that we can continue to provide our vital services. It is our belief that instead of what is proposed, a more holistic and fully sympathetic review of the permit system is needed. We should explore all possible legal means of challenging the DfT’s intended approach.

Our outline strategy is broadly to:

  • raise awareness at political level and argue our case to the key powers – there is too little understanding of what we do and how we do it;
  • obtain an expert legal opinion as to whether in fact DfT is either required or able to enforce the new regulatory approach – this is a complex matter to unravel;
  • provide a platform for problems and issues to be aired, and mutual support to be provided – we should not feel alone at this time, this issue affects all operators of s19 and s22 vehicles with more than 8 passenger seats, and for whom transport is their primary purpose.

We are aware of the role and activities of the Community Transport Association (CTA) on this issue, and we support their work. Many of us are long-standing members of CTA. However, we do not believe that the CTA is able to provide the necessary impetus and detachment needed for this task because of their close links with and funding from DfT. CTA’s stated position is that it is “prepared to call on the charities and community groups…to not resist these changes” and instead propose to lobby for help for CTs to change to a full PSV operating model. We feel it is premature and defeatist to follow CTA’s stance at this stage. Nonetheless, we propose to work in parallel with CTA and to closely liaise with them.

We held an initial meeting on 17 August to discuss the need for a Campaign to resist the proposals. A number of significant CT operators agreed to form a steering group to establish the Campaign along the above lines. We are now seeking wider support and funding to develop this Campaign. We have engaged the TAS Partnership Ltd to provide practical facilitation, policy advice and to obtain an initial expert legal opinion

If you are interested in receiving further information and/or joining the fight, please let us know via the campaign page;

Click Here

Alternatively if you would prefer to receive non-digital communications, please contact Sarah Huntley on 01772 204988, or email to

Please circulate this message to any other community transport or minibus operator who you think is affected by this issue. Please also copy us into any emails that you send.

Please join with us on this important journey – we need to act NOW!

For further details or discussion, please contact Sarah Huntley at

Integrating Community Transport & Health

January/February 2017 Newsletter

Integrating Community Transport & Health – Introducing our Total Transport solution

The genesis of Accessibility Solutions Ltd’s Integrated Community Transport/Non-Emergency Patient Transport Services (ICT/NEPTS) delivery model goes back more than 10 years and is rooted in a Department for Transport (DfT) funded pilot in the South Cotswolds in 2002, working with Paul Beecham & Associates ; Paul is still an invaluable associate of Accessibility Solutions Ltd today, 15 years later.

Due mainly to IT issues and data sharing protocols the pilot ultimately didn’t deliver the planned outcomes but regardless partners persevered to work with South West Ambulance Service and a consortium of local community transport providers to respond to the recommissioning of the Non Emergency Patient Transport contract by Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group…but despite a community-inclusive tender, ultimately the contract was awarded to Arriva Transport Solutions ; service commenced in December 2013 resulting in a number of initial challenges.

Patients had to wait hours – Read More


By then our Founder / MD, Gareth Blackett, was supporting a large community transport operation in the South West in a CEO capacity ; during a visit to the local Hospital Gareth noticed a policy statement regarding changes to NEPTS transport which he believed Community Transport could help to solve. The consequences were-as usual with Accessibility Solutions Ltd – ahead of the curve – as we developed a truly pioneering and successful sub contractual, pan-sector delivery model that proved mutually beneficial to the public sector commissioners, the private sector contractor and the community sector subcontractors. The model was presented at Westminster in January 2015 to a number of Chief Executives of Ambulance Trusts to unequivocal support.

Our model of transitioning NEPTS demand to community transport providers is now established, operational and value adding in the South West with a focus on Oncology and Renal Patients. We are now negotiating with a number of local authorities and NEPTS providers to roll out the model nationally within the context of Total Transport. Disappointingly recent presentations and articles on the subject appear devoid of any reference to community provider-led models – a briefing note recently circulated to regional Total Transport Authorities cited 5 barriers to integrating transport that the Department for Transport had identified via the £40m Total Transport investment.

Total Transport pilot fund


None of the barriers referred to community transport providers as a solution, but all focussed on statutory commissioning and public policy challenges as the problem. Within the context of the DfT’s Total Transport Programme Accessibility Solutions is now working with grass roots transport providers and NEPT service providers using our Integrated Community Transport/Non-Emergency Patient Transport Services (ICT/NEPTS) delivery model to apply our experience and add value nationally.

We can deliver the DfT’s Total Transport outcomes for commissioners, sustainable revenue sources for community transport operators and most importantly a better transport experience for patients by developing capacity in the local community. Please get in touch to learn more about the Accessibility Solutions Ltd Integrated Community Transport/Non-Emergency Patient Transport Services (ICT/NEPTS) delivery model.

The Accessibility Challenge Bus Franchising in Europe

‘The Accessibility Challenge’ – Bus Franchising in Europe

December 2016 Newsletter

The Accessibility Challenge Bus Franchising in EuropeAs we prepare to enjoy the forthcoming festivities and to both reflect and to look forward, as our first Christmas Newsletter Accessibility Solutions wants to ‘gift’ an archive that we think will have increasing significance to the UK bus regulatory regime into 2017 and beyond.

Researching the Buurtbus model in the Netherlands.

In 2012 our Director Gareth Blackett was honoured by the Association of Transport Co-ordinating Officers ( ATCO) with the Martin Robertson Travel Bursary to research the Buurtbus model in the Netherlands. The work proved both prophetic and practical- BuurtBus operates in a franchised network and offers great insight given the forthcoming Bus Services Bill ; and ultimately the learning was applied to a trial in the UK to develop innovative transport solutions.

The context in 2012 was an increasingly compromised supply of public transport services due to austerity, particularly in less populated areas, against growth in demand due to demographic and economic trends, as well as local modal-shift policies. The results were somewhat predictable – service withdrawals, network gaps and consequent growing social exclusion – and determined that the focus of the research was to develop a generic intervention that could be proactively ‘plugged into the network and played’ prior to service cessations in order to preclude network gaps . There had been some success in the UK with innovation – demand responsive buses, shared taxis and community transport – but no solution that could be standardised, measured and sustained…and it was the quest for such a model that was termed ‘The Accessibility Challenge’.

Following extensive desktop research and fieldwork in the Netherlands, the results identified that the Buurtbus model could offer a viable solution to mitigate bus service withdrawals in the UK as well as functioning successfully in a franchised network. The key success factors proved to be the collaborative design of the delivery model ; the customised nature of the service (note to MaaS) ; the regulatory framework ; cultural perceptions of public transport and social action ; infrastructure integration ; and a commitment to public relations and marketing.

The model was presented at a number of national UK transport events and to a number of transport commissioners – notably Transport for London and Nexus – which ultimately resulted in working with Hackney Community Transport to re-appropriate, modify and develop the Buurtbus model into a prototype that was trialled in Jersey before their award winning Liberty Bus service was introduced. Although unsustainable, a number of key lessons were learnt.

Looking forward to 2017

Accessibility Solutions is keen to work with commissioners and providers of transport to develop innovative, Buurtbus-type services within franchised bus networks; and as on-demand ‘Accessibility as a Service’ solutions in rural environments. Please contact us for more information.

You can download the original ATCO News Article -‘The Accessibility Challenge’- here for free as a Christmas gift to our valued network of customers, clients and stakeholders.

Happy Christmas & an Accessible New Year from all at Accessibility Solutions!!

Happy Christmas & an Accessible New Year from all at Accessibility Solutions!!

We have delivered £20,000 worth of value for local communities

We have delivered £20,000 worth of value for local communitiesWe have delivered £20,000 worth of value for local communities

Over the last three months Accessibility Solutions has been working hard to support grass roots transport providers to achieve sustainable market positions. Our approach, albeit intensive, is extremely successful in securing cash investments for our clients very quickly; in just 12 weeks we have delivered nearly £20,000 worth of value for local communities –

  • An unrestricted capital contribution for a new vehicle for a transport operator in the Marches region
  • A revenue grant towards overhead costs for a grass roots transport provider in the rural Teme Valley
  • Both capital setup costs and on-going revenue support costs for an electronic scheduling system for an urban transport scheme in the West Midlands

We know things are tough right now for organisations that have traditionally benefited from grant aid or discretionary investment from a local authority…and we also know those days are gone forever; in addition, competition for any remaining investment opportunities is at an unprecedented high.

But the Accessibility Solutions approach is very different – we work with local communities, transport commissioners and providers to co-produce solutions from conception to implementation; we take an original idea and secure funding, develop the delivery model and design the service, all tailored to local needs and requirements. As Accessibility Solutions develops their businesses, our clients are unburdened to provide affordable, accessible and inclusive services in their respective localities.

If you are a stakeholder, commissioner or provider of accessibility solutions please get in touch to hear how we can help to develop your business in order to keep your local community connected.