The late Claudia Flanders, widow of entertainer Michael Flanders, was advisor on disability to the National Bus Company. In 1987, in memory of her husband, she established Tripscope to help disabled and elderly people solve their travel mobility problems.
Through seeking to highlight best practice and improvements in bus accessibility, this Award recognises her achievements, and seeks to encourage even more innovation and hard work in this field.
Winners: Essex County Council
Essex County Council’s Options for Independent Living (OIL) partnership with access groups, bus operators and CPT Essex has worked for a number of years to increase travel choice for individuals. Its ‘Try a Bus’ initiative helps older people and those with disabilities, many of whom will have last used public transport many years ago, to try the bus and engage with transport personnel again, thus giving them the knowledge and confidence to return to regular public transport use.
This, together with the Council’s initiative to improve access to key services for isolated and disadvantaged residents in rural areas through its Accessibility Planning Strategy, and in particular its ‘Access Braintree’ project, appealed to the judges as simple and practical ways by which older and less mobile residents could be encouraged to use conventional bus services, improving their quality of life.
Try a Bus - Choice, Control and Independence
Essex County Council works in partnership with older and disabled people and transport providers in order to reduce the barriers that they face when travelling on public transport. The 'Try a Bus' day was developed when we recognised that a number of older and disabled people did not consider that they can use public bus services, either because they last used them many years ago and did not realise that vehicles are accessible now, or they had lost confidence when considering travel on public transport.
Access Braintree, Essex County Council
Braintree District was the second area review to take place and represents a microcosm of Essex as a whole. It has three major towns, Braintree, Witham and Halstead, where the majority of the population live, but a large rural area with a scattered but still substantial population in smaller villages and hamlets.
As such it offered an ideal opportunity to make use innovative and cost effective services – “shopper buses” to key service centres, in order to:
- Improve the level of access to key services for those without public transport options,
- Increase the use of sustainable modes of travel,
- Increase the quality of life of residents ( particularly older residents) in deeper rural areas,
Runners Up:Talking Buses, Thamesdown Transport Limited
Audio bus stop announcements are normal in London but they are still very rare outside of the capital.
Thamesdown Transport has had a policy of continuous improvement in its products over many years and this has included initiatives to improve the accessibility of bus services for the local community.
The company was an early adopter of low floor buses in 1996 and, even then, these included on-bus information to passengers using scrolling message screens. Ten years on, with a switch to a new vehicle provider, the Hanover ‘Announce’ system was specified. Initially these were used to carry just the visual ‘next bus stop’ message with the objective to deliver the complete audio-visual package This was rolled out in 2009 and by the end of 2010 will cover buses operating 64% of passenger journeys.
The judges were impressed that the initiative had been funded commercially despite the recession, and that these and other initiatives had been developed involving a strong partnership in the community with individuals and groups representing people with disabilities. They were also impressed with the supporting documentation and publicity.
Easy Access for All, Lothian Buses plc
Lothian Buses, Britain’s largest publicly-owned bus company, has had a proactive policy for many years to improve access to its buses and services. In 2009, the fleet became 100% low floor and easy access, a full eight years ahead of the Government target. The judges were impressed with the company’s commitment to easy access for all, its partnerships with organisations representing people with disabilities and further initiatives such as its ‘Pink Tops’, a branded livery identifying buses designed to accommodate both wheelchairs used by the disabled and unfolded buggies on the same vehicle.
Judges' Overall Verdict
With access now an integral part of most industry initiatives, it is perhaps inevitable that the number of entries would reduce. However, the job still isn’t fully done and, in the view of the judges, there is still the opportunity for operators and local authorities to ‘go the extra mile’ with innovative schemes to improve access. It is good to be able to recognise three organisations who have done precisely that in 2010.
Who could be nominated?
As well as accepting individual nominations in 2010, the judges also considered entries or nomination under all other categories for their impact on accessibility and whether they also meet the criteria.
… and by whom?
Nominations were accepted from all eligible organisations, and self-nomination was acceptable.
Criteria and Entry Requirements
The award was won by an operator, project, or a change in practice, which, in the view of the judges, has done most to promote or improve accessibility for any group of people.
Each other category contains a criterion concerning accessibility and the extent to which the needs of people with restricted mobility have been taken into account by the operator or in a project.
The judges may request additional information from short-listed nominees prior to deciding on a final winner.
Criteria used by the judges included:
- The impact of the project and any changes to the project made as a result of monitoring.
- The results of the project in terms of patronage or other appropriate indicators.
- The long term sustainability of the results likely to be sustainable
- The nature and extent of staff involvement and training
- Plans for future extension or development.
- The extent of the involvement of passengers or representative groups