A ‘blue badge’ scheme which helps disabled bus and Tube passengers alert fellow passengers of their need for a seat is to be made permanent after trials showed it made thousands of journeys easier for those less able to stand.
The ‘Please Offer Me a Seat’ badge is intended for passengers with hidden disabilities and conditions, or who are undergoing treatments, which make it difficult to stand for long periods of time.
More than 1,200 people tested the new badges which are similar to the popular Baby on Board badges earlier this year.
During the trial, 72 per cent of journeys were said to be easier as a result of the badge and in 86 per cent of journeys participants reported feeling more confident when asking for a seat.
The scheme, which will launch next Spring, will be the first of its kind in Europe.
London Mayor 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.”
Transport Commissioner Mike Brown added: “This trial has made a real difference to people with invisible impairments, conditions and injuries who find it difficult to get a seat when they need one.
“It is part of our commitment to constantly improve the network for all our customers and we will launch the badge and card permanently next spring, once a thorough review of the findings of the trial is complete.”
News that the scheme will be made permanent has been welcomed by transport campaign group Transport for All.
Chair Alan Benson said: “Transport for All are pleased to hear the please offer me a seat trial was successful and TfL and the Mayor will be launching it next year. “
However he added: “While this will help many customers, there will be those who don’t want to use a badge and card. We want to see those people supported too, and for everyone to get a seat who needs one.”
Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member, has also welcomed today’s announcement.
She said: “As someone who has long supported this scheme being introduced as a trial I very much welcome it now being permanently rolled out across London.
“This is a small but really practical initiative that has greatly helped many people with hidden disabilities and medical conditions.”
“The scheme is a good example of TfL listening to the needs of passengers and then meeting them. I hope 2017 will see many more examples by TfL.”