2. Experiences in maritime transport

To use maritime transport has been a challenge for several groups of passengers, among others because of different types of disabilities. Both a survey physical problems when using transport means made by the Norwegian Institute of Transport Economics (TØI) in 2011, the national Travel behaviour survey and a report on use of public transport in the population and among persons with disabilities made by the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs in 2018 prove that many passengers with disabilities have problems in using public maritime transport[i].In the Directorate’s report it is among others stated that:

“Many persons with mobility impairments mention physical conditions; embarking and disembarking trams/trains/ships, long distance to station/platform/quay and difficult to get to/on station/platform. Among persons with ADHD discomforbecause of many impressions is a common factor across means of transport, while persons with cognitive disability often have problems with communications or social situations. Among persons with cognitive disabilities we also find that approximately 2 out of 10 do not/rarely use trams and trains because of too much technical issues related to buying tickets and route information.”

The report among others includes an overview of which types of challenges persons with disabilities face when using maritime passenger transport:

Table 29: Why do you not/rarely use passenger-/route ships? Percentage

 Hearing impairmentsMobility impairmentsVisual impairmentADHDCognitive impairmentTotal populationPopulation without impairmentsPhysical impairment/ orientation impairmentPsychic or cognitive impairments
Takes too much time6501337859
Difficult to find information before travel (e.g. on departure times, prises etc.)4201072226
Difficult to by ticket240522232
Too much technical related to buying tickets and route info330881202
Departure times850132971413
Long distance to stop/quay/ferry terminal12192161215151415
Difficult to get to quay/ferry terminal5150587679
Expensive way of travel129119518161820
Poor information during trip (e.g. announcement of stopovers)710631022
Physical conditions on the ship (e.g. bad maintenance, space, air etc.)21421081123
Conditions on quay/ferry terminal /e.g. physical design, seats, information etc.)5150872134
Difficult to embark and disembark22602172310
Poor winter maintenance (gritting, plowing etc.)170021111
Do not get enough assistance from ships staff260081111
Uncomfortable with too many impressions95019131024
Problems with communication or social situations6408272124
Uncertain/don’t know241613181721212020
Difficult to find the correct passenger- /liner  5      
Number (n)16121484626050029116889

Figure 1 Why different groups of passengers with disabilities are not using maritime transport (Source: Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs: Use of public transport in the population and among persons with disabilities. Carried out by Sentio Research Norge, November 2017)

Which challenges face passengers with different disabilities? Subject to the reservation that different people experience not only one particular challenge, but perhaps multiple, and that these are not always connected to the individual’s personal disability, it is possible based on the enquires to point out typical problems that have to be sorted out:

Blind and visually impaired people

For blind and visually impaired people the important thing is problems with way finding, among others finding the correct passenger ship, on board way finding and finding accessible information. In addition comes for instance bad solutions regarding contrast between walk paths and rows of seats, between doors and walls, bad lighting and others.

Deaf and people with reduced hearing

For deaf and persons with reduced hearing access to information in accessible formats will also be a main problem, besides some orientation aspects, bad acoustic and reverberation solutions as well as communication with others.

Mobility impaired people

Mobility impaired people face challenges particularly as a consequence of barriers in the physical environment, for instance long distances from parking space to quay, point of boarding, unsatisfactory embarking and disembarking solutions – among others because of problems regarding tide, embarkment ramps and others, and not the least parking problems both on the quays and on board car-ferrying ships. A special aspect is the introduction of the Norwegian system Autopass on ferry routes, both regarding financial aspects and the system’s ability to keep an overview of the actual number of cars for mobility impaired people on board. The latter aspect is important not least for onboard security (assistance needs in an emergency situation) besides the wish that passengers with this type of cars should have as accessible parking spaces as possible, both regarding possibilities to getting in and out of their own cars.

Persons with cognitive disabilities

This group of passengers deal with the same problems as other, when it comes to challenges with long distances to quays and parking spaces and concerning embarkment and disembarkment, but also regarding communication with other people and feeling uncomfortable with too many impressions. They also raise the issue of receiving information in accessible formats, among others on departure times, in addition that it is difficult to get necessary assistance from personnel.

This group among others experience as a problem that seaborne travelling takes too long time, problems of accessible information, among others regarding departure times. They also point out that this is an expensive way of travelling, that they are uncomfortable with the lack of space, and feeling discomfort because of too many impressions. The report from the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs also provides a percentage-based overview of which factors constitute the biggest challenges regarding seaborn passenger transport:

Table 35: You have answered that you find it difficult to travel with a passenger-/route going ship. Are difficulties connected to….? Percentage

 Selection of organisations                                                   Selection of population
Hearing impairmentMobility impairmentVisual impairmentADHDMentally disabled



Population in totalNon-disabled populationPhysical impairment/reduced orientationDisability because of physical or cognitive factors
Information on departures, arrivals276524131010712
Buying tickets207218196466
Distance to quay/ferry port17282151429293024
To arrive at or entering a quay/ferry port103214211017171816
Conditions on quay/ferry port (e.g. seating, information etc.)20235231176910
To embark and disembark the ship204420191212101713
Physical conditions on the ship (for instance space, air etc.)12327268931613
Information on the ship (e.g. announcement of stops)39351512116921
Too many impressions228239155349
Communication or social situations327223355159
To find the correct passenger ship/liner  20      
Number (n)412535962118159805648

Figure 2 Distribution by percentage of how different categories of passengers experience types of challenges in maritime transport (Source: The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs : Use of public transport in the population and among persons with disabilities. Carried out by Sentio Research Norge, November 2017)

A factor that affects most groups is that ferry transport is found too expensive compared to the alternatives, that it is too great a distance to quay and/or ferry port and the departure times. But it is also important to not that inside the groups there are differences according to age, education and sex.

A common feature is also that many are reluctant to travel alone, as a consequence of the different challenges.

[i] See the report (Norwegian language): https://www.bufdir.no/Global/Bruk_av_kollektivtransport_i_befolkningen_og_blant_personer_med_nedsatt_funksjonsevne.pdf