Our services are used by people from many walks of life. In some instances our customers are totally reliant on our services to get to where they need to be. We therefore need to maximise our service accessibility for those who need to use them.
Access for the disabled
We are committed to supporting customers with restricted mobility and special needs. We recognise that for many of these people, access to public transport services is essential to independence.
For this reason we have been working with Disability Rights, the UK's largest disability organisation, to produce Doing Transport Differently, a guide to accessing public transport for those with impairments or health conditions. Available on the Disability Rights website, this publication aims to encourage more people with disabilities to use public transport.
We continue to invest in making our services more accessible and to improve the service we offer the disabled. We work with Disability Rights and local disability groups to do this.
In our UK Bus division 89% of our buses now feature low-floor access, making them accessible to wheelchair users and pushchairs. Details of low-floor bus routes can be viewed on our local websites. We have increased training provision for drivers who work with disabled passengers and have purchased wheelchairs to use as training aids, allowing them to understand and respond appropriately to our wheelchair customers' needs.
We also take action at local level in response to feedback from stakeholder groups. For example we have worked with local authorities to develop signage and travel information for those with particular needs.
Sighted puppy walkers are allowed to travel free on all our buses while training their dogs on behalf of Guide Dogs for the Blind.
As part of the National Stations Improvement Programme we have refurbished many stations, building in state-of-the-art-technology and promoting access for all passengers.
Each train operating company holds a Disabled People's Protection Policy which outlines our commitments to the needs of people with disabilities. Policies can be downloaded from the operating company's website. Special assistance is available in First-managed stations at no extra cost.
In some areas, such as the First Capital Connect partnerships with Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), we have been trialling 'Try a Train Days' for those with disabilities. We would like to extend such activities to other parts of the Group.
In North America we own school buses with specialist equipment (such as ramps and passenger lifts) which are used as required on school routes. The buses in our transit operations are owned by our customers: most have low-floor access and wheelchair lifts. It is our responsibility to make certain that our drivers are properly trained to handle passengers with special needs and to use the equipment appropriately.
Doing Transport Differently - A guide for everyone with lived experience of disability or health conditions.Download (PDF, 1MB)
'Try a Train Day' for the blind and partially sighted
In partnership with the RNIB, First Capital Connect hosted a Try a Train Day for blind or partially sighted people to help customers become familiar with the train environment and provide the opportunity to question customer service staff.
Jenny Parker, RNIB's Business and Partnership Development Executive, said, 'At RNIB we are delighted to have worked in collaboration with FCC on this Try a Train Day. It proved an incredibly popular event with demand for places exceeding availability'.