The lowdown on transport under NDIS
Transport is an important factor to enable social and economic participation for people with a disability, whether as a means to access the community, work, study, job-seeking, medical appointments or to run errands.
Like many other day-to-day living costs – rent, food, electricity – transport is a cost that everyone pays. However, there are some day-to-day living costs which incur an extra cost for a person because of their disability. NDIS funded transport assistance is limited to those who cannot use public transport due to their disability.
As such, the NDIS will fund ‘reasonable and necessary’ transport supports to assist participants with these additional costs. When you transition to the NDIS, your transport needs will be considered for your NDIS plan. Participants are required to use the least expensive form of transport that meets their needs.
Transport has been a confusing one for a lot of people and it’s wise to speak with your support coordinator or LAC about how you can make your funding work best for you.
We’ll take a look at the options available for transport under the NDIS below.
Mobility allowance ceases once you have an NDIS plan. In place of this allowance, there are supports and funds for transport that are available under the NDIS.
It’s essential that you tell your NDIS planner what your transport needs are so they can factor these into your plan/funding.
They are particularly interested in situations where you cannot travel independently and they want to know if there are any personal transport-related aids and equipment that may help you or training you may need to use public transport.
‘Transport funding’ under the NDIS
Transport funding, like the mobility allowance, only relates to you. It does not relate to travel for families, carers or service providers and it considers any relevant taxi subsidy scheme.
There are generally three levels of funding support for transport which is usually paid to the participant fortnightly. The levels are used to provide a transport budget for participants.
Level 1 - The NDIS will provide up to $1,606 per year for participants who are not working, studying or attending day programs but are seeking to enhance their community access.
Level 2 - The NDIS will provide up to $2,472 per year for participants who are currently working or studying part-time (up to 15 hours a week), participating in day programs and for other social, recreational or leisure activities.
Level 3 - The NDIS will provide up to $3,456 per year for participants who are currently working, looking for work, or studying, at least 15 hours a week, and are unable to use public transport because of their disability.
Participants can receive higher funding if the participant has supports (mainstream, informal or funded) in their plan that enables their participation in employment.
If you qualify you will have a range of options to explore. Some options might be:
- Plan your transport use so that it can be entirely covered by the transport funds available under the NDIS.
- Build additional transport supports into your NDIS package by utilising other components such as Capacity Building funds for training, so you can develop the skills to travel more independently. To do this, you will need to demonstrate how developing these skills supports you in achieving your goals.
- Buy your own vehicle and request NDIS Capital funds to carry out vehicle modifications so that you can drive yourself or have another person transport you. Again, you will need to show how this supports you in achieving your goals.
Service provider and community transport
Some disability service providers offer bus services that support your access to the community. In some areas, bus services may also be offered by independent community transport providers.
You might choose this option if you require door-to-door transport from your home to your daytime activities, place of study or work. This may also be your preferred option if there is no public transport option available in your area and you have funding to cover the cost.
A support worker may also drive you in their vehicle for community access. In these cases, the worker’s time can be claimed at the agreed hourly rate for the relevant support item (e.g. community participation) and against your core budget, including the time spent travelling.
Tolls, parking costs and the like are to be negotiated between the provider and the participant.
How reasonable and necessary transport supports are decided
Generally, you can access funding through the NDIS for transport if you cannot use public transport without substantial difficulty due to your disability.
Before including any transport support (or indeed any support) in your plan, the NDIA must also be satisfied that the support will assist you to pursue your goals, objectives and aspirations.
In addition, the NDIA must consider what is reasonable for families, carers, informal networks and the community to provide. In relation to transport, this consideration may be different for participants who are adults compared to participants who are children, because it’s reasonable to expect that most parents drive their children around to school and hobbies.
When considering whether a proposed transport support represents value for money, the NDIA will compare the costs of transport to the overall costs of alternative supports which may provide a similar level of independence.
For example, vehicle modifications such as special seating or equipment to get in and out of the vehicle can be considered 'reasonable and necessary' under the NDIS as it provides a person with greater independence and in the long term saves money.
Some people may purchase their own vehicle and drive themselves.
You may think of some other options that work better for you. For example, some people may purchase their own vehicle, which their support team can use to transport them.
The NDIS will not pay for fuel as this is something everyone has to pay for (although there have been some extreme circumstances where they have).
Remember, you will need to think about vehicle safety and ensure you have adequate car insurance that provides cover if your support team is driving you in your own vehicle.
Taxi subsidy schemes
The Queensland, New South Wales and Victorian governments all operate a taxi subsidy scheme for people with a disability. Each state has made different arrangements for the NDIS transition.
New South Wales
Taxi Subsidy Scheme (TSS)
Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme (TTSS)
Multi Purpose Taxi Program (MPTP)
Must be a permanent resident of Qld with severe disabilities, defined as fully meeting one of six eligibility criteria.
Doctor must sign application form.
Also available for 6-12 months to people with a temporary disability.
Scheme is not means tested.
Must be a resident of NSW with severe and permanent disability under one of five categories.
Must provide medical documentation for independent assessor.
Scheme is not means-tested.
Pension card does not mean automatic qualification.
Must be a permanent resident of Australia and live in Victoria.
Must have a severe and permanent disability that prevents you using public transport.
Must have a Centrelink or Veterans Affairs pension card and demonstrate financial hardship.
Prior to NDIS implementation
TSS issues a card for members to use and will subsidise half of a taxi fare of up to $50 per trip (subsidy $25).
TTSS is a docket system which will subsidise half of the taxi fare, up to $60 per trip, for eligible people.
MPTP will pay half of your taxi fare, of up to $60 per trip. Also covers the taxi lifting fee for MPTP members who use a wheelchair or mobility scooter.
The Queensland Government announced that it will continue to provide the TSS for NDIS until the end of 30 June 2020.
As the NDIS rolls out the scheme will not change the way customers use their TTSS dockets in NSW.
The Victorian Government is still working with the NDIA to finalise arrangements for how eligible MPTP users can access transport support under the NDIS.
Until these arrangements are finalised, there will be no changes to the way people access support from the MPTP.
Other public transport tools
To make public transport easier to use and more affordable, a range of other concessions and handy tools are available, depending on which state you live in. These include Companion Cards, Assistance Animal Permits and much more. Find out more on your state government transport website:
If you live in South East Queensland and have been assessed as unable to touch on or off with a go card, check out Translink’s video on how to apply for an annual Translink Access Pass.
The Commonwealth Department of Human Services has developed a Digital Wallet app that allows you to present digital image of your concession or health care card using your phone or smart device. Find out more about the Digital Wallet.
Do you have more questions or ideas about transport? We’d love to hear them! To enquire now, call us on 1800 112 112.