If you have Parkinson’s, you might have some concerns about how it will affect your ability to get out and about.
Parkinson's shouldn't stop you from getting around - there are different transport and travel schemes you may be able to apply for to make travelling a bit easier.
The Blue Badge scheme
The aim of the Blue Badge scheme is to help people with severe mobility problems, registered blind people and those with severe disabilities in both arms to park close to places they want to visit.
With a Blue Badge on display, a vehicle driven by a disabled person, or with a disabled person as a passenger, can be parked:
- without charge or time limit at on-street parking meters and in Pay and Display bays (unless signs show a time limit for badge holders)
- without time limit in streets where you would usually only be able to wait for limited periods
- for a maximum of three hours in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or without any time limit in Scotland, where there are parking restrictions shown by yellow lines
This is only if the disabled person leaves the vehicle, and:
- in England and Wales, a special parking clock is also displayed showing the time of arrival, if the vehicle is parked on yellow lines or in a reserved parking place for badge holders that has a time limit
- the vehicle is not parked in a bus lane or cycle lane during the lane’s hours of operation
- the vehicle is not parked where there is a ban on loading or unloading
- all other parking rules are met
Your car should not be wheel-clamped if you display a current Blue Badge, but the police may remove the vehicle if it is causing an obstruction.
It is an offence to display a Blue Badge if the disabled person is not, or has not been, in the vehicle. This is unless the driver is on the way to collect a disabled person or has just dropped them off.
The Blue Badge scheme applies throughout the UK, except for certain London boroughs (City of London, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, and part of Camden). These boroughs do have some parking concessions for Blue Badge holders, so contact them to find out more.
Do I Qualify for a Blue Badge?
You may qualify for a Blue Badge automatically or through assessment.
To automatically qualify for a Blue Badge you must:
- be getting the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance
- be assessed as having 8 points or more under the ‘moving around’ activity of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment or, in Scotland and Wales, 12 points under the ‘planning and following journeys’ activity
- be getting War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement
- have received a lump sum payment from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (within tariff levels 1-8) and have been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability that causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking, or
- be registered blind
To qualify subject to further assessment you must:
- have a 'permanent and substantial disability which causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking'
- drive a vehicle regularly, have a severe disability in both arms and be unable to operate, or have considerable difficulty in operating, all or some types of parking meter, or
- in Scotland, be unable to walk or virtually unable to walk because of a temporary but substantial disability which is likely to last for at least 12 months
- in Scotland, lack an awareness of the danger from traffic, either for a temporary period of at least 12 months or permanently
- in Wales, as a result of a severe cognitive impairment, be unable to follow the route of a journey without the help of someone else, or
- in Wales, have a terminal illness that seriously limits your mobility
You can check if you're eligible and apply for or renew your application on the gov.uk website.
You can also contact your local authority. Local authorities can charge up to £10 (or £20 in Scotland) to give you a badge. A badge will last for up to 3 years.
Appealing a decision
If your local authority refuses to issue you with a Blue Badge, you have no formal right of appeal. As many authorities have internal procedures for dealing with reviews, it is worth writing to ask for a review.
In Scotland there is a formal review process. If a local authority decides that you do not qualify, you can ask for a review of the decision within 28 days of receiving it.
There is no limit on how many times you can apply for a Blue Badge. If you are unsuccessful on your first attempt and your situation changes, you are free to try again.
Using your Blue Badge abroad
Blue Badge holders visiting European Union countries that provide disabled parking concessions can take advantage of those by displaying their badge. Concessions vary from country to country.
You can find details in the European Commission leaflet, 'Parking card for people with disabilities in the European Union'.
Central London Congestion Charge
Blue Badge holders can be exempt from the congestion charge in central London if they apply to the Congestion Charge Office. There is a £10 administration fee.
Visit the Transport for London website for an application form. This exemption can be used on any 2 vehicles.
Vehicles taxed in the ‘Disabled’ class are automatically exempt if they are registered at DVLA, Swansea.
If you use a car to get around and want to know more about driving when you have Parkinson’s, you may find our information on driving and Parkinson’s useful.
The Motability scheme enables disabled people to exchange a ‘qualifying benefit’ to lease a car (including cars adapted to carry a driver or passenger seated in their wheelchair), powered wheelchair or mobility scooter.
Find out more about Motability on their website.
National Key Scheme
If you have a disability, you may find a Radar key helpful. These allow you to unlock more than 9,000 accessible public toilets across the UK. You can purchase a Radar key from Disability Rights UK.
Buses and other local transport
Under the Equality Act, the government can make bus companies ensure that disabled people can get on and off buses safely and ‘without too much difficulty’ and also travel ‘in safety and reasonable comfort’.
To find out about public transport in London, including disabled access, you can visit Transport for London's website.
Outside London, local authorities are in charge of public transport. Contact your local authority to find out more about disabled public transport access in your area.
If you need to make special arrangements to travel by rail because of your Parkinson’s (or any other condition), call National Rail Enquiries on 03457 48 49 50 or textphone 0845 60 50 600.
You may be able to get a Disabled Person’s Railcard, which gives you and a companion one-third off the cost of most train journeys. The card costs £20 for one year or £54 for three years. Check the claim form or website for a full list of the disabilities covered by the scheme.
If you're in Northern Ireland you can apply for the similar Half Fare Smartpass. Contact Translink on 0845 600 0049 or pick up an application form from Translink bus and rail stations, Social Security Offices, Health and Social Care Trusts, or Driver and Vehicle Licensing NI.
Concessionary fare schemes
Your local authority will have a concessionary fare scheme for older and disabled people.
Each nation in the UK sets the minimum that should be available to help pay for travel. Who qualifies as a disabled person for this help also varies between each country in the UK.
- In England, if you have reached Pension Credit qualifying age* or are disabled, you can get free off-peak local bus travel.
- In Wales, if you are aged 60 or over or are disabled, you can travel for free on local buses at any time of day.
- In Scotland, if you are aged 60 or over or are disabled, a National Entitlement Card allows you to use national and local buses for free at any time of day.
- In Northern Ireland, you can travel free if you are aged 60 or over, are registered blind or are a War Disablement pensioner, and for half price if you have a listed disabling condition.
*Between April 2010 and April 2020, the qualifying age for Pension Credit is increasing to 66. To check the qualifying age at the time you want to claim, use the state pension age calculator.
Some local authorities may offer more than the minimum to residents. For instance, in London, the Freedom Pass lets older and disabled people use London buses, tubes, trains and trams free of charge (time restrictions apply in some cases). Contact your local authority to find out more about what they can offer you.
If you’re 60 or over, you may be able to get discounted coach travel. For example, National Express has a Senior Coachcard that costs £12.50 (plus £2.50 p&p) and gives a third off standard fares for a year.
Many companies also offer reduced fares for disabled people. You can get more details from the coach companies.
Travel and holiday information
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Out and about
"I go out pretty well every day of the week and that keeps me sane."
Janet talks about the schemes and equipment that help her to stay active and make everyday trips, such as to the shops.