Travelling on public transport
Accessing urban public buses
Most urban public buses are accessible to wheelchairs and prams, but mobility scooters cannot generally be accommodated.
Buses will usually ‘kneel’ to meet the height of the curb, or be equipped with a ramp, to make getting on and off the bus easier.
Priority seating for people with disabilities is located in the front section of the bus. This area is provided for people with physical, sensory and cognitive impairments, including those accompanied by a service dog, as well as senior citizens and pram users. However, it is expected that wheelchair users have first priority to use this space.
You can find more about accessible urban public transport, including links to regional public transport providers, on the New Zealand Transport Agency website.
Total Mobility scheme
If the person you care for is unable to travel safely on public transport, they may be eligible for subsidised taxi services. The Total Mobility scheme issues vouchers or an electronic card that allows the holder to receive a 50 percent discount on normal taxi, or other specialist transport provider, fares (up to a maximum fare set by your local Total Mobility operator).
Total Mobility may be available if a person’s disability prevents them from undertaking any one or more of the following parts of an unaccompanied journey by public transport in a safe and dignified manner:
- Get to the place where the transport departs
- Get on to the transport
- Ride securely
- Get off the transport
- Get to the final destination
Read the user guide to Total Mobility at the New Zealand Transport Agency website for more information about how Total Mobility works. The user guide includes contact information for the Total Mobility operator and participating taxi companies in each region.
Check out this story about Barbara Tane from Life Unlimited who assesses people living in Hamilton city for eligibility to Total Mobility.
Special Education Transport Assistance (SESTA)
The Ministry of Education provides assistance with transport for school-aged children with disabilities who need help getting to school safely. SESTA may involve transport by school bus or another contracted transport provider, or an allowance to help cover the cost of transport.
Long distance travel
If someone you care for has a disability and is travelling long distance, whether by bus, train, ferry or airline, it’s a good idea to contact the transport provider to talk about their individual needs.
Ideally, you’ll want to make arrangements well in advance. This is especially important when accessible facilities such as dedicated wheelchair spaces are limited, or if you require a transport provider to arrange equipment such as a ramp, hoist or wheelchair to make boarding the vehicle safe.
If you are flying with special mobility or medical equipment, such as a powered wheelchair or oxygen supply, you will also need to make arrangements with the airline in advance to make sure they can be carried safely.