Have you ever seen one of TfL’s ‘Please Offer Me a Seat’ badges? Or know what they are for?
If you live in London and happen to travel through one of the trial zones, you might have come into contact with one of the new blue badges, or even tried it out yourself.
The badges are like the popular ‘Baby on Board’ badges worn but expectant mothers, but are designed to help those who have an invisible or not easily noticed condition and who need a seat on the underground. The badge is designed to draw attention to the disabled traveller without them needing to directly ask their fellow passengers, as many in the study that TfL commissioned mentioned difficulty in doing so. 1,200 people with invisible conditions took part in the six-week trial.
In a great move for inclusivity and travel accessibility, TfL have announced that the trial was a success and that they are going to be rolling out the badges and accompanying card across their network in spring of 2017.
This move is progressive for the UK, as it means that TfL will be the first transport provider in Europe to officially recognise invisible impairments and conditions.
During the trial, 72 per cent of journeys were said to be easier as a result of the badge, in 86 per cent of journeys participants reported feeling more confident when asking for a seat and 98 per cent said they would recommend the badge and card to somebody who requires or would benefit from it.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
“I’m proud that Londoners embraced this innovative trial and that Londoners wearing the badges found travelling around our Capital easier as a result. It’s great news that next year we will be able to offer them to all those with hidden disabilities and conditions, and I’m really looking forward to the blue badges becoming as recognisable on public transport as our hugely successful Baby on Board ones.”
Members of the public have been developing their own solutions to the problem, such as a ‘cancer on board’ badge. Its creator, James McNaught took part in the TfL trial.
James McNaught said:
“Getting a seat on transport when you need it can sometimes be really tricky, especially if the reason you need to sit down isn’t obvious to others. When I was undergoing radiotherapy for throat cancer, it meant I couldn’t talk to ask for a seat and the morphine I was taking made me appear drunk. It was a real struggle to get people to understand why I needed to sit down. I’m really pleased TfL completed this trial. A badge and card will help make a real difference to the lives of people undergoing drug treatment or with longer term conditions or disabilities.”
Although there will be some people who won’t want to use a card or a badge, there’s no doubt that having an official transport provider on board with the reality of invisible conditions will do much to raise awareness with the commuting public, and will help to make journeys easier and smoother for all.
You can apply for a Please Offer Me a Seat badge by filling out the online form on TfL's website.
Visit www.tfl.gov.uk/accessibility for information on TfL’s Travel Support card or any other accessibility initiatives.