Featured in the Future Transport London Newsletter May 2023
‘1 in 6 Londoners who answered our online survey said they had been unable to buy a ticket without a smartphone or internet connection.’ So says Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of London TravelWatch, in his introduction to a new report published in March.
The report focusses on people who are digitally excluded including many old and disabled people. Being unable or unwilling to use a smart phone or the internet means makes it imperative that there is a human presence at stations and proposals to close ticket offices are worrying many. The increasing tendency to require payment for tickets online or by bank card is an issue which worries many. If there is no opportunity to pay by cash there is no way people without bank accounts can buy tickets, and this may well breach the 2010 Equalities Act.
The report makes nine recommendations. The first is that fares should be equal whether purchased online or in person. Secondly is a demand that staff are always available to help people to buy tickets and to assist them on and off stations and trains. Having a member of staff on board trains is one way of achieving this but many trains, such as on the underground, have only the driver on board. TfL ensure that all stations are staffed but this does not apply on main line railway lines.
Another recommendation is the provision of more accessible services and resources. This includes accessible ticket machines and making sure physical posters, maps and timetables use accessible text. Physical assistance for disabled people is also important including lifts at stations and level train boarding points. Information should also be available in accessible format such as Braille.
Other recommendations include support and mentoring services for those who are disadvantaged, consulting on accessibility and engaging with groups working with disadvantaged people and maintaining non-digital options before and during travel.