The Disability Action Alliance project to improve travel and transport for disabled people has already seen success, with the introduction last year by Blackpool Transport of the ‘Safe Journey Card’, which makes it easier for disabled people to access buses and trams in Blackpool.
The project continues to involve quite a few Alliance member organisations, but particular work has continued between Blackpool Transport and Disability Hate Crime Network (DHCN) on a particular focus to improve the training that drivers receive.
Stephen Brookes who represents DHCN, has a local role of Chair of the Blackpool Transport Passenger Users panel, which is facilitated by Blackpool Transport. The panel is made up of a range of Blackpool people, disabled and non-disabled all of whom use buses and trams on a daily basis. Over a period of time, and since the introduction of the safe journey card, members of the panel and Blackpool Transport staff have discussed the potential involvement of the panel in passenger awareness training for drivers.
As a result of these discussions Blackpool Transport has improved the content of all driver training courses by including disabled people in delivering personal experience and information. This enables drivers to understand their role in providing a quality service to disabled people, recognise various types of impairment, and have a better knowledge of how to support disabled travellers.
The training now provides valuable insight into the difference that drivers can make to enhance and improve the travelling experiences of disabled people.
Bob Mason, who is Director of Delivery at Blackpool Transport said, “We pride ourselves in our pro-active approach to all training and in particular disability awareness. Recent partnerships with our customer focus panel have exceeded all our expectations and having members of the disabled community speak directly to our drivers, during our courses, has started a buzz amongst the workforce”.
General driver comments include “We didn’t think!” and “The two guest speakers were very helpful in helping us to understand the perspective of people with disabilities. This also gave an opportunity for drivers to get their points across (Two way street)”.
Bob Mason added “What greater way to raise awareness?”.
This simple partnership has made a huge difference; not only in giving disabled people more confidence to travel but also by ensuring that Blackpool Transport is better equipped to ensure its business is diverse enough to meet the needs of the whole community which it serves.
The Alliance project will look at extending the Safe Journey Card and Diversity and Disability Awareness training more broadly across the UK, using the proven success as a model for best practice.
If any other Alliance members are interested in taking this forward, please do contact the secretariat.