A new information card should make it easier for disabled passengers with access needs to travel safely and enjoyably on buses and trams across a major tourist area.
When the Safe Journey Card is launched later this month, disabled passengers in and around Blackpool will be able to show them to bus or tram drivers or conductors.
The cards include messages such as “Please wait for me to sit down in case I fall” and “Please be patient, I have difficulty in speaking”.
The card has been designed by disabled people from Blackpool Bus Users Group (BBUG), working with the bus and tram operator Blackpool Transport, and could be the first local project rolled out to other parts of the country through the government’s new Disability Action Alliance.
Stephen Brookes, BBUG’s chair and a member of Blackpool’s user-led organisation Disability First, which has backed the card, said: “It has been designed by disabled people, for disabled people.
“To me, the idea of creating something as simple but meaningful as the card, which will make life easier for both users and bus and tram staff, is such a win at the start of our tourist season, where so many visitors who are older and disabled use public transport.”
He said it could be useful if a disabled person found it difficult to communicate, or if their impairment was not immediately obvious.
Brookes, who coordinates the national Disability Hate Crime Network, said the card could also help stop the harassment often experienced by disabled people when delays caused by them trying to make their access needs known to drivers held up other passengers.
He said: “A lot of public transport issues start with confrontation because of impatience.
“It will never completely eradicate these issues, but it allows disabled people the ability to feel more confident.”
Trevor Roberts, managing director of Blackpool Transport, said: “Having grasped the fact that the Safe Journey Card has the capability to generate immediate benefits for an important cross-section of the travelling public and all of our driving and conducting staff, the team at Blackpool Transport felt that it was something that we should very definitely be involved with.
“We are delighted to be working towards the implementation of the scheme and are proud to be working with our partners throughout the Fylde Coast and the Blackpool Bus Users Group to ensure that we are delivering the best possible access to all our bus and tram services.”