Transport for London (TfL) has announced that a blue badge for those less able to stand on public transport will be introduced on a permanent basis in spring next year.
The ‘Please Offer Me a Seat’ badge, and accompanying card, were trialled earlier this year to help those who need a seat, but have difficulty getting one. The six-week trial was in response to passenger feedback and TfL research, which found that those with hidden disabilities and conditions, or those undergoing treatments, can often find it difficult to get a seat when they need one.
More than 1,200 people tested the new badges, which are similar to the popular Baby on Board badges. During the trial, 72 per cent of journeys were said to be easier as a result of the badge, in 86 per cent of journeys participants reported feeling more confident when asking for a seat and 98 per cent said they would recommend the badge and card to somebody who requires or would benefit from it.
When it is launched, TfL will become the first European transport provider to officially recognise invisible impairments and conditions in such a way.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m proud that Londoners embraced this innovative trial and that Londoners wearing the badges found travelling around our Capital easier as a result. It’s great news that next year we will be able to offer them to all those with hidden disabilities and conditions, and I’m really looking forward to the blue badges becoming as recognisable on public transport as our hugely successful Baby on Board ones.”
Members of the public have been developing their own solutions to the problem, such as a ‘cancer on board’ badge. Its creator, James McNaught took part in the TfL trial.
James McNaught said: “Getting a seat on transport when you need it can sometimes be really tricky, especially if the reason you need to sit down isn’t obvious to others. When I was undergoing radiotherapy for throat cancer, it meant I couldn’t talk to ask for a seat and the morphine I was taking made me appear drunk. It was a real struggle to get people to understand why I needed to sit down. I’m really pleased TfL completed this trial. A badge and card will help make a real difference to the lives of people undergoing drug treatment or with longer term conditions or disabilities.”
Alan Benson, Chair of Transport for All, said: “Transport for All are pleased to hear the please offer me a seat trial was successful and TfL and the Mayor will be launching it next year. While this will help many customers, there will be those who don’t want to use a badge and card. We want to see those people supported too, and for everyone to get a seat who needs one.”
Mike Brown MVO, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “This trial has made a real difference to people with invisible impairments, conditions and injuries who find it difficult to get a seat when they need one. It is part of our commitment to constantly improve the network for all our customers and we will launch the badge and card permanently next spring, once a thorough review of the findings of the trial is complete.”
To find out when TfL’s new seating badge and card will be going live, sign up to receive accessible travel updates, by visiting www.tfl.gov.uk/emailupdates and following @TfLAccess on Twitter.
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