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Meeting the needs of older and disabled travellers
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Edwards S, Partington D, Matthews B
Institution of Engineering and technology/ ITS(UK)
A Factfile provided by The Institution of Engineering and Technology and ITS(UK)
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Improvements to physical infrastructure and service provision have undoubtedly enhanced public transport accessibility and thus mobility in recent years. However, it is the rapid growth of new technologies that must now be embraced in order to facilitate fully independent travel for older and disabled people. These new technologies, which can be categorised under the term Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) can act as the ‘glue’ for accessible transport networks. There are two clear challenges. Firstly, whilst the guidance enshrined in the Equality Act, the PSVAR and RVAR, and the Department for Transport’s
Inclusive mobility best practice guide
, offers a platform to help inform what needs to be considered in terms of inclusive approaches, technology-based solutions do not feature in any great detail in these guidance sets. Both vehicle and infrastructure designers use these guides to define what constitutes an accessible vehicle/environment and therefore the guidelines need to be updated to incorporate the huge potential technology has in improving mobility. Secondly, the significant potential of services delivered to personal portable devices has yet to be realised. Smart phones and apps can give users up-to-date data on their travel and enable them to make decisions based on their needs. The slow uptake of these technologies by the older and disabled population means that a section of society that can benefit most from these services is missing out. Despite ITS being deployed at system or network-level there are still significant gaps to be addressed and solutions must be developed in three key areas: Support for independent travel for the elderly and disabled Cost effectiveness and efficiency of the current system for the provider and end user Provision of seamless, reliable, multi-modal (and multi-operator) journey information Full stakeholder engagement is required between industry, operators, Government, engineering professionals and the user, to enable a joined up approach to inclusive mobility that places the user’s needs at the heart of the mobility plan. Addressing these issues will offer enormous scope in improving the mobility, health, and wellbeing of not only disabled and older people, but all members of society. Failure to do so risks a growing part of the wider population being excluded from basic human rights of independence, mobility, and social inclusion.
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