Coventry University awarded £20 million to improve transport for people with disabilities

A picture of a man stepping onto a bus

The £20 million grant will be used to create the UK’s first evidence centre for accessible and inclusive transport

University news / Research news

Thursday 05 January 2023

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Coventry University has been tasked with helping to change the face of transport for people with disabilities through a £20 million grant to create the UK’s first evidence centre for accessible and inclusive transport.

The grant has been made available by disability transport charity Motability, whose research shows that disabled people in the UK currently make *38% fewer journeys than non-disabled people – a figure that hasn’t changed in the last decade. This impacts disabled people’s access to healthcare, employment, education and social activities.

The evidence centre will seek to create change by undertaking applied research and delivering exemplar projects to influence policy and transport providers by demonstrating that accessible transport can be achieved.

The research and agenda will be led by people who have disabilities and will build upon the user-centred approach successfully developed at the university’s National Transport Design Centre (NTDC), where the evidence centre will be based.

With the support of Coventry University and the NTDC, Motability wants to create change and achieve its mission to ensure that no disabled person is disadvantaged due to poor access to transport.

Established in May 2017, the NTDC explores the future of transport design, drawing upon Coventry University’s proud heritage as a School of Design, established in 1843.

It delivers research that guides the design and development of transport systems of the future, working closely with the industry and global car innovators.

NTDC is part of the university’s Clean Growth and Future Mobility research area, which has more than 100 research staff and a research portfolio that explores all aspects of sustainable transport, with expertise that will prove vital in delivering Motability’s ambition for accessible transport.

Coventry University will lead a consortium of collaborators representing a wide range of organisations including RiDC and Designability, Connected Places Catapult, Policy Connect and WSP UK.

The evidence centre will look to improve the lives of disabled people and support Coventry University’s vision of Creating Better Futures.

We are delighted to have been chosen to lead the evidence centre and look forward to starting this exciting project for which we have great passion. We need to better understand people who have disabilities lived experiences, needs, and wants in relation to transport. The funding from Motability enables us to undertake innovative applied research that puts those people impacted with disabilities at the heart of the process. We will look to disabled people to help guide and inform our activities and to help shape the future of public and private transport in the UK.

Paul Herriotts, Professor of Transport Design in the Centre for Future Transport and Cities at Coventry University

This is an exciting project to lead and will make a huge impact on the lives of people who have disabilities. Coventry University has already made great strides when it comes to looking at transport design and any issues which arise. We are very proud of the ongoing impactful work we are doing, and it’s important for us to be at the forefront of transport and technological development.  

We pride ourselves on being an inclusive and diverse university and are constantly working to create better futures. There is a huge amount of expertise among both students and staff which will contribute to this work and help improve the lives of disabled people when it comes to transport.

Professor Richard Dashwood, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research)

We are pleased to grant fund Coventry University and collaborators to run the UK’s first evidence centre for inclusive transport. We know they will bring their wealth of experience and expertise in transport design and the experiences of disabled people to help us to create longer-term solutions in travel accessibility.

Barry Le Grys, Chief Executive of Motability the charity

Anyone interested in learning more about the evidence centre can email

Find out more about Motability

Learn more about the work of Professor Herriotts and the NTDC.

About the Evidence Centre

The Evidence Centre will be run by Coventry University and a consortium of charities and organisations, independent of Motability. Coventry University and collaborators have been chosen following an open and transparent charitable grant competition process.

*About the Transport Accessibility Report

Disabled people make an average of 38 per cent fewer trips than non-disabled people. There has been no reduction in this gap over the past decade. Our analysis shows that completely closing the transport accessibility gap for disabled people in the UK would deliver benefits in the region of £72.4 billion per annum.