Senior members of the TfL Online, Strategy and Stakeholder Engagement teams met with representatives of Transport for All on Thursday. The meeting was called to discuss how TfL can improve the experience of using Journey Planner for wheelchair users and those with accessibility needs.
This gave us a great opportunity to engage with a very knowledgeable group who were able to give us valuable insights into how we can continue to make improvements to Journey Planner and the way we serve our information.
A key outcome for Transport for All is that these improvements will mean wheelchair users are not reliant on personal experience and knowledge of travelling in London, and are instead served more accurate, reliable information to plan journeys. It‘s crucial that those with accessibility needs aren’t put off making certain journeys due to any gaps or inaccuracies in the information they receive.
Some of the key issues raised for discussion were as follows:
- Journey solutions are sometimes more convoluted, time-consuming or difficult than they need be. This is often as a result of National Rail service information not being fully integrated into Journey Planner.
- Journey Planner doesn’t advise on ‘doubling back’ – going beyond your desired stop and then coming back, which can be a good solution when wheelchair users can’t change at certain stations due to a lack of accessibility between platforms.
- Different types of rolling stock can mean that certain services are sometimes listed as accessible, when that might not actually be the case.
- Terminology can sometimes be ambiguous to JP users, and the term ‘accessible’ itself was mentioned as being a little vague, i.e. whether this refers to step-free access to the platform, or to the train, whether trains have dedicated wheelchair spaces, and so on.
- Info on lifts that aren’t working needs to be more specific, including whether its north or southbound passengers, for example, that will be affected. The @TfLAccess Twitter feed was mentioned as somewhere this information should be shared in real-time.
- Bugs in Journey Planner when planning journeys with step-free access were highlighted.
- It was also mentioned that sometimes station staff are unsure when asked about specific details for accessible journeys.
The issues above formed the basis of the conversation, and gave us plenty of actions to take away and look at, from quick wins such as bug fixes, through to more complex, long-term improvements to consider. These were some of TfL’s main areas to focus on
- Ensure our station modelling is all correct and up to date, in order to provide data that is as accurate as possible for planning accessible journeys.
- Work on getting a better flow of information from National Rail stations regarding any changes to stations and their layouts, as well as problems such as faulty lifts.
- Aim to more efficiently feed information through to station and frontline staff so that they are able to offer more comprehensive advice.
- Look at the @TfLAccess Twitter feed and see how more comprehensive information can be fed through in real-time, such as reporting faulty lifts.
- Consider the suggestion that we include external links (e.g. to National Rail sites) where we have gaps in our information for those wishing to take non-TfL services within London.
- Future Journey Planner innovations such as automated information for re-routing and even consideration of weather conditions will continue to be looked into.
This was a really productive session and it gave us a great opportunity to engage directly with Transport for All and take on board their concerns and recommendations.
A follow-up meeting will take place in the next few months when we expect to be able to demonstrate tangible improvements to Journey Planner with regards accessible travel, and we will continue to maintain a dialogue with Transport for All in the meantime.
You can find out more about Transport for All, by visiting their website.