Transport Focus and accessibility
Transport Focus works to support improved accessibility on rail, bus, coach and tram, and to ensure that the views of passengers with disabilities are driving change.
Some of our areas of activity in this sphere include:
- pressing for improvements to rail operators’ Disabled People’s Protection Policies (DPPPs) when new franchises are let
- checking in detail the draft DPPPs of new operators and recommending improvements if necessary
- discussing DPPPs with the Office of Rail and Road
- encouraging all operators to adopt best practice
- meeting rail companies and the industry on a regular basis to discuss accessibility matters
- researching the design of new trains and gaining passengers’ views.
Transport Focus meets the Department for Transport regularly to discuss and monitor progress on the Railways for All scheme, bringing step-free access improvements to a large number of stations across the country.
We also consider schemes such as the provision of:
- accessible toilets
- tactile paving at platform edges
- improved colour contrast on footbridges and stairs
- handrail improvements to modern standards
- non-slip flooring
- induction loops for hearing-aid users at ticket offices, help points, public address systems and so on
- modern public address and customer information systems
- improved lighting
- accessible ticket counters.
Transport Focus facilitates a national forum for all accessibility organisations to discuss research and best practice as well as any other matters of mutual interest. Attendees include the Royal National Institute of Blind People RNIB, Action on Hearing Loss, Guide Dogs, Transport for All, Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, the Department for Transport, Office of Rail and Road, Trailblazers and Mind. It meets at least twice a year in London.
Transport Focus is also consulted on exemptions from the regulations on train and station design. Where space does not permit or where changing existing trains or buildings would otherwise be too costly, the operator can apply to have some of the legal requirements relaxed. The improvement will still result in a better environment for passengers but will not quite meet the exacting standards usually required.
Provided that the proposals are not too far from the regulations, Transport Focus will usually not oppose the proposal. The Department for Transport makes the final decision on whether it can go ahead. A recent case involved seeking permission to retain handholds and door-control buttons at their original heights, which differ slightly from the more recently-agreed standards.
National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) When undertaking the NRPS, in which passengers answer questions about the specific journey they are making at that time, we ask all passengers to show if they have any mobility impairment. This enables us to draw extra details from the final data to show inform us of how some disabled passengers use the rail network.
Passenger Assist In Autumn 2013 Transport Focus (with additional funding from Network Rail and the Department for Transport) carried out research into the effectiveness of the recently-revamped Passenger Assist service. We used mystery shoppers to record their experiences of the booking process and of journeys, and how well the assistance that they required was provided.
The results, published in March 2014, showed that the booking process generally offers a good experience for passengers, but it also found a need for more consistent delivery of assistance. While many passengers receive the service they book, some still do not. As a result of this, we set out a series of recommendations. You can read more here.