Blue badge for people with hidden disabilities to be rolled out across the Transport for London (TfL) network in spring 2017, following a successful trial.
With it often being difficult to find a seat on the underground, and the possibility of a seat being offered to someone with a hidden disability even fewer, TfL has responded to this concern with the introduction of a blue badge and accompanying card for disabled passengers.
The blue badge, which reads “Please give me a seat”, was trialled by 1200 people with hidden disabilities over a six week period in September – receiving great success. During the trial, 72% of participants reported that their journey has been easier because of the badges. Passengers reported feeling more confident when asking for a seat on 86% of journeys and 98% said that they would recommend the badge to somebody who could benefit from it.
Therefore, TfL have announced that the blue badges and their corresponding cards will be rolled out across the network by spring 2017.
"Please offer me a seat" card
London’s transport commissioner, Mike Brown, 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."
James McNaught was one of the participants in the trail, and had previously developed his own solution to the problem with the creation of a “Cancer on Board” badge.
He commented on the introduction of the blue badge: "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.”
Twitter user @BlueTube2016, who blogged about her experience whilst wearing the badge, said: "Before I had the badge, I was always really anxious about travelling on peak. Without something to see, I didn't want to risk being interrogated about my invisible disability, or have to justify my need for a seat, so I suffered in silence.”
The badge is the latest of TfL’s initiatives to help disabled passengers, building on the success of its “Baby on Board” badge, which was launched in 2005 and has been hugely successful in helping pregnant women find a seat on public transport, as well as its Travel Support card which helps disabled and elderly customers communicate with staff.
However, Alan Benson, chair of Transport for All, a charity which provides transport information and advice for disabled passengers in London, has voiced his concerns about the scheme.
Benson highlighted that, “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.”
When it is launched, it is believed that TfL will become the first European transport provider to officially recognise impairments in such a way.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has 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.”
Those wanting to receive a badge need to sign up for updates at the TfL website.
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