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Call for volunteers

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) are on the lookout for disabled volunteers who can help trial a new journey planner aimed at removing barriers on public transport for those with long term health conditions.

WMCA has teamed up with You Smart Thing, the leading online travel planning platform, to produce an app which will alert a destination if a person is on the way who needs additional support.

The trial will take place on transport routes serving four West Midlands leisure facilities; Coventry Life The Wave, Coventry Life Alan Higgs Centre, Wolverhampton Active Central and Wolverhampton Active Bert Williams Leisure Centre. Those who participate in the trial will have their cost of the journey covered automatically on booking. As a thank you, volunteers will also receive Amazon vouchers at the end of each journey. The creation of the planner is part of Include Me WM, a regional approach to making the West Midlands an exemplar region for engaging disabled people and people with long-term health conditions to be physically active. It aims to put disabled people and people with long-term health conditions at the heart of all conversations.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said, “We are always striving as a region to make our transport network as friendly, welcoming and accessible as possible.

“With this aim in mind, I am pleased that as a region we champion our IncludeMe WM agenda which sets out our ambition to be an exemplar region for engaging with and encouraging physical activity amongst disabled people and those with other long term health conditions.

“We are inviting residents to volunteer to trial a new app that provides the less able bodied with a journey planner designed to remove barriers they may face whilst navigating public transport. I encourage locals to step forward and help improve quality of life for the fellow West Midlanders.”

Anne Shaw, Executive Director of Transport for West Midlands, said: “We are always keen to ensure that disabled people are supported throughout our transport networks and any existing barriers involving them reaching their destination are removed.

“The introduction and eventual implementation of this scheme will be vital in developing our offering and make sure that transport becomes much more inclusive and accessible”.

Antonis Kousoulas, product manager at ‘You. Smart. Thing.’, said: “Working with WMCA and Sport England to enhance our ‘request assistance’ feature has given us deep insight into the needs of disabled people in respect of public transport, multi-modal journeys, and destination management.

“During ‘Include Me/Travel Without Barriers’ project we were able to determine and synchronise key information that both disabled passengers and transport operators need about each other in order to confidently achieve seamless interchanges between multiple bus and metro services, whilst planning a trip and whilst en-route.

“We are really proud to have enabled passengers, drivers and even the staff at the final destination to be updated simultaneously with real-time travel alerts that include the door-to-door routes alongside passenger accessibility profiles and needs. This functionality is now available to transport operators, destinations and major events as part of the ‘You. Smart. Thing.’ travel assistant service and travel demand management platform.”

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Notes to Editors:

Led by the Mayor of the West Midlands, the WMCA brings together 18 local councils and three Local Enterprise Partnerships to oversee the transfer of powers and funding from Whitehall to the West Midlands.

The WMCA is putting these new powers from government back where they belong, in local hands, bringing the region together to build a healthier, happier, better connected and more prosperous West Midlands.

Billions of pounds are being invested by the WMCA to improve the region’s transport network, transform its derelict industrial land into new homes and workplaces, support existing businesses and help grow the innovative, green industries of the future.

At the heart of this vision is a strong economy that is both green and inclusive, one that supports the region’s ambition to be net zero carbon by 2041 and offers everyone the opportunity of a good quality, affordable home and the skills needed for a worthwhile job.

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