The UK Government’s ‘Inclusive Transport Strategy’ identifies the need to increase access to and use of public transport by disabled people as a key priority.
“There is little point in accessible buildings if the transport network that supplies them is inaccessible, and vice versa.”, explains YST’s CEO, Chris Thompson. “Highways England, regional authorities, Network Rail and in particular, train operators, do a huge amount to ensure access for all. Step-free stations, ramps where required, hearing loops, high-contrast signage and disability-aware staff are all part of the mix, though there is still an expectation that people should book a day in advance if they want assistance with a rail journey.”
Despite us living in an era when sharing information is easier than ever, the idea that an assistance request could be communicated to the taxi or bus operator to help you get to or from the station, to the staff at interchanges en-route or indeed at your ultimate destination, appears to have escaped our wisdom. When it comes to disabled people, we still operate in silos. ‘Levelling up’ in terms of equality, diversity and inclusion has a long way to go.
The Travability consortium advocates an integrated approach to ‘whole place’ management, that requires organisations to make cross-sector collaboration a primary strategic objective. During trials, taking place in the lead-up to the 2022 Commonwealth Games, it will build on YST’s existing travel assistant service. The GDPR compliant technology is embedded in transport, tourism, and venue organisations’ websites, mobile apps, newsletters or booking confirmation emails, enabling people to share their specific travel plan and assistance requirements between taxi, bus, metro, rail operators and staff at venues and events.
”“Travability will provide a great opportunity, at a unique time, to put disabled people at the heart of informing how accessible travel and assistance, delivered in the right way, can facilitate and enable even greater access to travel, places and opportunity for all in the post-pandemic world.”, says Nick Goss, founder and MD of Goss Consultancy Ltd.
Travability aims to increase the use of public transport by disabled people, especially when they are faced with undertaking journeys involving multiple operators. In doing so it will address the complex challenges of integrating assistance support services offered by different and disconnected transport providers.
The £111,000 funding contribution from Connected Places Catapult is part of a rolling programme to help improve transport network and destination accessibility across the UK through technology research and innovation. Connected Places Catapult, Director of SME Development & Academic Engagement, Alex Weedon said, “Travability has the potential to help regional authorities and travel operators’ monitor to incentivise and improve access to sustainable transport, whilst at the same time making UK destinations more equal, diverse and inclusive with respect to visitor attendance. I look forward to seeing the social and economic benefits that this can bring.”