Public transportation travel may be just to the store or to a new city or country, but all of it means an opportunity for stress, problems, and a general feeling of being a nuisance for the traveler with the disability who typically needs a little extra something or someone. Enter, tech help from Passenger Assist, in the UK.
People with physical handicaps normally have carefully purchased, arranged, organized, and available stuff that makes life easier, but all of that and the people who often go along with the stuff do not always travel together to each destination. Thanks to the internet and loads of people who have disabilities or have loved ones with disabilities, there is a wealth of information and even companies willing to help find accessible bathrooms, hotels, tours, cruises, and even adventure sports. Often, just getting there is the trouble, especially in the case of public transportation, which can be confusing for the able-bodied, let alone a person with a physical disability.
In the past, apps like NYC’s Wheely were created to help wheelchair users navigate the NYC Subway system, giving directions and maps to elevators. Also, places like Paris have made most buses accessible with lifts and designated wheelchair parking zones. Newer transportation systems like in Medellin, Colombia have equipped all metro stations with lifts for the stairs or elevators and all new buses with lifts. The trick is when trying to find help when needed, because oddly enough, not everything goes according to plan or is perfectly set up for use at all times.
So, leading the way to better solutions is the UK. To start off, London made a special effort to include accessible-friendly information of all sorts on Visit London for better planning, including some transport information, videos, and tips.
Then, they ensured that every black taxi in London is now wheelchair accessible for when a taxi is favored or if other means of transportation fail, leaving a taxi as the only option.
Now, for use all over the UK, a solution was designed that makes help personal, specific, timely, accountable, and dignified, known as Passenger Assist via the fine people at Transreport. Not people-with-disabilities assist, not mobility-assist, just passenger assist, so even the name is more dignified.
“Over 2 million rail passengers with disabilities have reportedly faced difficulties with their journeys each year. With the push of a button, rail staff can get to you quickly and easily – just wait for assistance to come to you,” says Founder Jay Shen’s profile.
First, the app is personal. The user is registered with a name and photo so that public transportation staff know who to look for specifically and can address the passenger by name. The staff member can even message the passenger and vice versa, so the staff member has a name too. Names have dignity and always good manners to use.
Next, Passenger Assist is specific in saying what the passenger needs help with, such as a ramp to exit the train at a stop or aid in purchasing a ticket at the window. Specific requests allow staff to prepare for passenger needs and determine if equipment or extra people will be required. Being able to get help with what is needed is dignified. Being stuck in a door or missing your stop because no one knew to bring a ramp does not get dignity points.
Speaking of delays, timeliness for the passenger and the staff member is possible when everyone knows what to do and when. Since the staff and passenger can message each other, time can be addressed when schedules change or a mistake is made and Plan B is needed. Being respectful of each other’s time is dignified.
Not only can they message each other, but through GPS tracking down to the meter, staff and passengers can be located easily. Plus, staff is made more accountable for their good work in helping the passengers. Not having to shout, “over here!” is more dignified for everyone, as is having proof that you are doing a great job with your position as a kind person.
Dignity is a luxury not afforded to most disabled people, so let it be said that this is likely the biggest benefit of the Passenger Assist app and well-deserving of being mentioned again. Help with dignity, in an app: coming to all UK rail and train stations by June 2018.
“Transreport is a passenger-centric tech company, specializing in the Internet of Things and Blockchain technology with a focus on the transport sector.” The Passenger Assist app will be available soon on phones, trackable fobs, and wristbands, which will help people with varying types of disabilities use the means they prefer.