A new badge specially designed to make travelling easier for people who find it difficult to stand has been officially launched by Transport for London today.
The blue ‘Please Offer Me a Seat’ badge is available to disabled passengers and those with hidden conditions, illnesses and injuries, to help them find a seat on public transport.
The badge, and accompanying card have been created following requests from customers who can struggle to get a seat as their need is not immediately obvious.
A six week trial with 1,200 people was held in autumn last year to test the new badge and card. More than 72 per cent of journeys were found to be easier as a result of the badge, and 98 per cent of people taking part in the trial said they would recommend it to somebody who needed it.
The free badge and card is now available through the TfL website – www.tfl.gov.uk/accessibility
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “These blue badges will make a real difference to passengers who need a seat but just haven’t felt confident enough to ask for one. I’ve no doubt they’ll soon become as recognisable across the capital as our popular Baby on Board badges.”
James McNaught, who had previously developed a ‘cancer on board’ badge and later took part in the TfL trial, said: “This is a brilliant scheme and I am very glad that it is being introduced by the Mayor. The anxiousness of needing a seat but being unsure whether you will get one can rob people of the confidence to use public transport, and this simple initiative will make a huge difference to the lives of many people.”
Mike Brown MVO, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “The Please Offer Me a Seat badge and card demonstrate our commitment to making life easier for all our customers. The trial proved a great success, with the large majority of people finding the badge improved their journeys. I hope that its permanent introduction will allow more people to travel with ease and in comfort. As they become more widely recognised, more and more customers will be looking out for the blue badges and I hope offering their seat to fellow passengers with a greater need.”
Alan Benson, Chair Transport for All, said: “Transport for All is pleased to see the Please Offer me a Seat badge and card being rolled out. The feedback we received from members during the trial was that it made a real positive improvement to their journeys. We’re also pleased to see TfL continuing to encourage consideration of travellers who need a seat but choose not to partake in this voluntary scheme.”
Robert Music, Chief Executive, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “3,000 women every year are given a life-changing cervical cancer diagnosis. Due to the nature of the disease it is not always obvious that someone is affected, however treatment is painful, invasive and debilitating. The side effects can last a lifetime and are often embarrassing or difficult to discuss meaning many will suffer in silence. The Please Offer Me a Seat badges are a fantastic initiative and will make a real difference to the lives of women affected by cervical cancer and anyone else living with a hidden illness.”
Olivia Belle, Director of External Affairs at Arthritis Research UK, said: “There are over 750,000 people in London living with hip or knee arthritis alone. The daily pain and fatigue caused by their condition can make everyday tasks, such as standing on a train, extremely difficult. However, the pain is invisible and its severity can fluctuate on a daily basis, which can make it really difficult to explain and to see. We’re really supportive of this new scheme, and hope it will make Londoners understand the impact of invisible conditions like arthritis and make getting a seat when needed easier.”
Visit www.tfl.gov.uk/accessibility and follow @TfLAccess on Twitter for information on TfL’s Travel Support card or any other accessibility initiatives.
• TfL will not ask customers requesting the badge or card for their medical history or supporting evidence from a doctor.
• A selection of images are available here – www.flickr.com/tflpress
• The badge and card can be used on all TfL services – London Underground, London Overground, TfL Rail, London Buses Docklands Light Railway, Tramlink and River Services – as well as on station platforms or waiting areas.
• 1,209 people tested the badge and card during a six week trial from 12 September – 24 October 2016.
• ‘Action on Equality: TfL’s Commitments to 2020’ report – http://content.tfl.gov.uk/action-on-equality-tfls-commitments-to-2020.pdf
• Qualitative and quantitative research was run in 2015 by GFK.
• This included 16 accompanied travel interviews with people with invisible impairments, conditions and injuries, and group discussions with general customers and TfL staff.
• The research found that people find it difficult to get a seat when they need one – particularly if that need isn’t obvious and they can find this experience stressful. The findings suggest that people perceive the entitlement to priority seating is based on visible conditions:
Pregnant women: 93%
¬Older customers: 93%
¬Customers with a less visible mobile impairment: 59%
¬Customers with learning difficulties: 46%
¬Customers with a hidden illness: 44%
• In order to reduce stress levels and increase the chance of obtaining a seat, people who are in need of a seat often use a number of personal strategies, such as travelling at off-peak times and taking a longer route to avoid stressful situations.
• Since 2012, TfL’s Travel Support card has helped disabled and older customers communicate with staff by allowing them to write down what help they need, as well as things like their emergency contact number.
• TfL’s Baby on Board badge launched in 2005 to help pregnant women get a seat on public transport and TfL now issue around 130,000 Baby on Board badges a year.